Baby boxes in the Czech Republic

The Foundation For Abandoned Children Statim and its sister organisation Civic Association For Abandoned Children – Statim both aim to help children, parents and mothers who found themselves in complex life situations, as a result of which they are not able to look after their new-born babies. The word STATIM is used in medical profession and means “at once”, “immediately”. That is exactly how we wish to help.
BABYBOX – STATIM operates a project with the objective of opening special cases – so called babyboxes –, in which mothers or parents can leave their new-born babies anonymously. The abandoned baby gets an immediate medical attention and social care.
The very first babybox has been working since June 1, 2005, at the private medical centre GynCentrum in Prague 9, in Hloubetinska str. No. 3. The building is known as Hloubetin Little Chateau and is located near the underground station Hloubetin.
The second babybox has been running since November 3, 2005, at the City Hospital “Milosrdnych Bratri” (“Brethrens of Charity” in Czech) in Polni str. 3 in Brno. The third one opened on December 5, 2006 at the College Hospital in Olomouc and the fourth on June 1, 2007 in the Hospital in Kadan; the fifth on December 6 2007 at the Tomas Bata’s Hospital in Zlin; the sixth on December 21, 2007 in the Hospital in Pelhrimov etc., etc. BABYBOX – STATIM originally intended to install twenty such cases nationally. To date, the charity has opened babyboxes in 76 hospitals in the country and saved 185 babies, with the view that one day there will be a babybox in each district – 70 in total. And why so many? The issue is accessibility for mothers in difficult social and personal circumstances as well as keeping their dignity. The more babyboxes there are, the better chance there is to save a life of a new-born baby.
We also offer assistance to parents on our help line. At present we are building a refuge where parents or mothers who struggle in difficult circumstances where they will be able to get all the help they need.
There is as much support as opposition for the whole project; the main argument against being that it deprives the child from knowing his or her origin in the future. However, at present it’s not possible to give birth anonymously in the Czech Republic, and so called secret births are only allowed for unmarried women. In both cases, the legal relationship between the mother and the child continues until adulthood or until the child is adopted. Many affected women (who have used a babybox) cite their fear of dealing with authorities.
The programme of the BABYBOX – STATIM organisation is clear and distinct: its only wish is never to find a little dead body of a new-born baby again.
The original idea was brought up by the entrepreneur and poet Ludvik Hess who remains brains, heart and soul behind the whole project.

Emil Machálek