In the 21st century, improvements in medical care, birth control, and gender equality have all meant that women have babies at a later age. For some reason, a hospital contractor in New Zealand didn’t get that memo, and when she saw a woman she deemed “too old” to have a baby leave with her newborn, she presumed she was kidnapping him. What followed sounds like a truly traumatizing experience for the mother.
The mother spoke to the New Zealand Herald about the incident last week, when she took her 18-day-old son to the hospital in Auckland for an appointment. As she left, a woman proceeded to follow her all the way to her car, not identifying herself as a hospital contractor.
“She kept asking over and over, ‘Can I hold your baby? Can I help you? Can I hold your baby?'” the mother told the Herald. “I said no. There was no way I was going to give her my child. Then she kept circling around my car. She was going to take the baby out of the car seat and take him.”
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The mom began to message her doctors. The contractor, meanwhile, had apparently called police and hospital security, saying that a woman “appearing to be having difficulty holding a newborn baby” was leaving with him. This went on for half an hour, scaring the mom and preventing her from picking up another family member from school.
The police called the hospital and the Ministry for Children to confirm that the woman was the baby’s mother and fit to care for him. They later told her that “this woman had a perfectly legitimate reason to call the police because she thought something was out of place. She thought you were too old to have a baby.”
So, the mom isn’t pictured in the Herald story, and she did not want to reveal her age, but this whole story has us fuming. Since when is being older grounds for “legitimate” suspicion of kidnapping? Even if she were downright elderly, could she not have been the baby’s grandmother? Also, there are specific protocols in place in most hospitals to ensure that parents leave with the right children after certain highly publicized “switched at birth” stories of decades past, but this was a mom bringing her kid to a doctor’s appointment. There must be some way to prevent vigilante hospital contractors from getting confused by their age bias.
The mom said she’s now going to take her son’s birth certificate with her every time she leaves the house. That’s one solution, but one we truly wish weren’t necessary.
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