- Family and Parenting
In the Arms of Warmth and Love: How Project Cuddle Helps Single Mothers Find New Homes for their Babies
A child brought into the world presents an overwhelming moment for any parent. On the one hand, you are blessed with the gift of a human being who will look up to you and value you as his or her personal hero and teacher. On the other, you are expected to meet a tremendous responsibility of making sure that child is cared for and raised to live a healthy and successful lifestyle. While the former brings a moment of joy to those of us who become parents, it can be overshadowed by the weight of the stress brought on by the latter.
In some cases, the stress can be so burdensome that it leaves parents to simply abandon their children in places like parks, churches, or even trash cans. However, thanks to the efforts of Project Cuddle, perhaps there’s a chance that less infants will have to suffer such a fate.
On July 5, 2013, actor John Stamos (best known for his role as Jesse Katsopolis on Full House) appeared as a guest on the Jeff Probst show to talk about his involvement with Debbie Manguson’s charity known as Project Cuddle. In the interview, John explained that he had been involved with numerous children charity organizations and his mother and sisters were friends of Debbie. After making some introductions, John and Debbie decided to collaborate with each other on creating a non-profit group that would provide an alternative to single mothers who felt they could not provide adequate care for their infants. Debbie explained that her motivation to start this organization began as early as 8 years old when she helped with her parents to care for orphans in Mexico.
The purpose of Project Cuddle is to provide a 24 hour hotline for young girls and women who feel they will not be able to care for their babies. The organization trains volunteers to receive calls from these women and provide them guidance on how to legally and safely provide their infants with new homes. Furthermore, the organization will provide women with information on safe shelters if they need a place to turn. According to their FAQ section, there is an estimate of “57 babies abandoned daily across the United States-that adds up to over 20,000 babies a year.”
During the interview Debbie explained that she started the organization in July 1996, setting up a toll-free support line in her living room. Within 12 hours, she got a call from a frantic mother who clearly did not want to keep her child and threatened to leave the child abandoned in a park. Debbie had the woman stay at her house and helped her find foster parents for the child 4 days later. Since that time, the organization has grown with the support of 2,500 volunteers and has saved over 700 babies across the US and Canada from abandonment. While Project Cuddle does help mothers find foster parents, it will also provides counseling and relocation assistance as many of the mothers may feel compelled to keep the child but want to keep the pregnancy a secret from their families. More information can be found at the link below.
I’ve done stories here about single mothers on a few occasions. One of the common themes that I notice from these stories is the huge amount of fear that such mothers face when it comes to raising a child on their own. They have no support system. They fear of being judged as naïve or immature. Their free time is spent working jobs and taking care of their child. They feel overwhelmed and stressed. Worst of all, they feel alone.
This is precisely why something must be done to show these women that such measures need not be considered! We can sit here and judge these women all we want and criticize them for the choices they make. But what good does that do for the child? How does blame and non-support help the mother provide the means needed to ensure the children can live beyond their infant years? And who are we to cast judgment on a young single mother without knowing the circumstances, especially in cases such as rape where the mother was clearly the victim?
Even if the child does survive or is somehow found by someone….what would happen then? Would the child be raised in a healthy environment with stable parenting? Would he or she be given good meals, provided with education, and most importantly comforted by a loving guardian? In all likelihood, I would venture to say that would not be the case. Instead, this could potentially lead the child to live a life of homelessness and pushed to the point of having to beg for food on the streets or resort to committing crimes or joining a violent gang. The child would not live, but rather fight for survival. They deserve better than that!
Debbie’s work isn’t just a means of giving moms an easy way out of their responsibility, but rather a second chance for both the mothers and children to have a decent life. For the children, Debbie’s organization provides an opportunity to grow up in a stable home living a healthy and happy lifestyle. For the mothers, Debbie’s work can help give them the time and resources they need to rebuild themselves and get back on their feet.
I watched the clip several times and was amazed at everything Debbie’s organization had to offer for mothers seeking help, but there was one scene in particular that touched my heart. Later in the clip, we are introduced to a woman who talks about how she found out about Project Cuddle and that she and her husband had often talked about wanting to adopt. After the two of them had discussed the idea for some time, they gave their paperwork to Debbie. Amazingly, Debbie was quickly able to find a mother that wanted to work with them to adopt her baby daughter.
We are then introduced to baby Savannah, wearing a lovely dress as she was brought out in front of the audience by the adopting father.
No matter how you look at the circumstances of a child’s upbringing, no one can deny the fact that every child deserves a chance to be in a good home. Project Cuddle enables mothers in trouble to make the responsible decision not only to save their child’s life, but to provide him or her a fulfilling and enriched one!
The life of a child should begin in a soft warm blanket cradled by loving parents and not on some park bench on a cold night. Debbie has already made that possible for over 700 babies, so let’s spread the word of this cause and see if we can help her do that for hundreds more!