05/06/2013 04:27 EDT | Updated 07/06/2013 05:12 EDT

Edmonton Angel Cradles: Hospitals Provide Bassinet Drop-Off For Unwanted Newborns


Two Edmonton hospitals will be the first in the province to provide so-called "angel cradles," where unwanted newborns can be safely and anonymously dropped off.

Officials hope the drop-off points at the Grey Nuns Community Hospital and the Misericoridia Community Hospital will prevent tragic outcomes for newborns.

Founder Dr. Geoffrey Cundiff calls the program a last resort for women who cannot or do not want to go through the adoption process.

"There's some women who have dissociative mental illness and we can't necessarily reach them, but there are some women [whose] safety is in conflict with that of their baby," he said.

Officials said they started looking at creating the program three years ago, shortly after British Columbia set up Canada's first angel cradles program at Vancouver's St. Paul's Hospital.

Three months after that newborn drop-off facility opened, a healthy two-day-old infant was placed in a bassinet in a private alcove near the hospital's emergency entrance along with details such as the date of birth, ethnicity and family history.

The baby was the only one ever dropped off at the hospital.

Cundiff spearheaded the project after a number of babies were found abandoned around Vancouver. It is based on similar facilities in Europe that are sometimes called baby hatches, which draw on their own origins from historic facilities run by churches such as foundling wheels.

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