A bell rings. Pastor Lee Jong-rak hears it. He quickly stands up. He knows that the bell has a special meaning. It means something important has arrived. Jong-rak runs to a small door in his home. This door leads to a special box that Jong-rak built. The box is warm and contains blankets. Someone has opened the box from the outside and left something. Jong-rak opens the box and finds a baby girl in it. He takes the baby into his arms. He kisses the baby and prays for her.
This is the beginning of a short, news film called “Baby Box”. It tells the story of Pastor Lee Jong-rak and his work. In the film, Jong-rak reads a note left by the baby’s mother. It says,
"I am in year 12 of school. I have made a simple mistake that I cannot manage or take care of. I know leaving my baby in this baby box is wrong. I will carry this feeling of guilt for the rest of my life. I am sorry. I am so very sorry."
Around the world, parents abandon thousands of newborn babies each year. That is, they leave their babies in a public place. Sometimes other people find the babies and care for them. But many times, the abandoned babies die. Pastor Jong-rak is a Christian minister from, Seoul, South Korea. And he wanted to do something about the babies that were left to die in his city. So he built the baby box - to provide a safe place for mother’s to leave babies they cannot care for.
Jong-rak’s baby box idea may seem unusual. But it is not. Over the past 10 years, people have built an increasing number of baby boxes around the world. Across Europe, there are almost 100 baby boxes. There are also baby boxes in India, China, the Philippines, South Africa, Japan, Canada, and Malaysia. In Pakistan alone, there are 300!
Baby boxes provide a place for mothers to leave their babies instead of abandoning them. Often, religious organizations or hospitals manage baby boxes. Many baby boxes include information for the mother - including legal information about how long a mother has to change her mind and come back for her baby. Some baby boxes encourage the mother to leave her personal information. That way, when the baby grows up, he can have a chance to know his parents.
Pastor Lee Jong-rak built his baby box a few years ago. But, his desire to care for abandoned babies began more than 25 years ago. It began when his son was born. Jong-rak’s son was born with a disability. He had Cerebral Palsy, a disorder caused by damage to his brain before birth. Doctors told Jong-rak and his wife that their son would not live long. But when they looked at their son, they loved him and wanted him to live. As Jong-rak cared for his son, he began to understand that all human life is special. He began to understand that God had a plan and purpose for every life. So, he made a promise to God. He promised that he would take care of life that was not wanted.
At first, Jong-rak's box received a few babies every month. Jong-rak and his wife cared for many of the children. And if there were too many, he would place some of them for adoption. Other parents would legally accept the babies into their family and take care of them.
But in 2012, the number of babies left in Jong-rak’s baby box quickly increased. The reason was because the South Korean government changed its national adoption laws. The government wanted to prevent stolen babies from being placed for adoption. So, they required parents to legally report babies that they did not want to keep.
This law makes it difficult for mothers who want to place their babies for adoption without anyone knowing about it. The act of legally reporting an unwanted baby can be very shameful, especially for mothers who are not married. Many of these mothers would have placed their babies for adoption before the new law. But now, they feel that safely abandoning them is their only choice. Jong-rak told the Reuters news organization,
"If you look at the letters that the mothers leave with their babies, they say they have nowhere to go because of the new law."
Today, Jong-rak receives up to 18 babies every month. And because they do not have legal parent records, these babies cannot be adopted. The South Korean government believes that Jong-rak’s baby box encourages child abandonment and makes the adoption process more difficult. They have told Jong-rak that he must close his baby box. But he has refused. He says that HE will bring the babies to the government in order to keep records of the babies. But he will not stop receiving abandoned babies. He told the filmmakers:
到了如今，Jong-rak 每月会收到至少有18个婴孩。他们因为没有拥有法定父母的资料， 这些婴孩都不能被人领养。南韩政府认为Jong-rak 的弃婴箱只会鼓励弃养的行动，使得领养程序更艰辛。他们要求Jong-rak关了他的弃婴箱。但他拒绝。他说，他会亲自把这些弃婴带到政府机构为他们报户籍注册。而他绝不停止接受弃婴。他告诉影片制作人说：
"If people say the baby box is illegal, then we can make it legal. There is nothing illegal about saving a baby's life."
Like the South Korean government, the UN also does not agree with the idea of baby boxes. The UN Committee for the Rights of the Child has called for an end to baby boxes. They say that children have a right to know who their parents are, and that baby boxes violate this right. The UN also agrees that baby boxes encourage child abandonment.
But Jong-rak believes that the mothers who use his baby box feel like they have no other choice. Often, mothers leave babies in Jong-rak’s baby box immediately after birth. The babies have not received medical care. And often they do not even have clothes. Jong-rak told the filmmakers:
"These babies come from dangerous situations. Without the baby box, these babies would die."
Jong-rak’s promise to care for unwanted life is based on his belief that God has created all human life. In the book of Psalms, in the Bible, it says, "God, you are the one who put me together in my mother's body. I praise you because of the wonderful way you created me. Everything you do is amazing!"
Jong-rak 允诺要照顾没人要的生命，因为他深信 神创造赋予所有人生命。圣经诗篇上有话说：“神阿，我的肺腑是你所造的，我在母腹中，你已覆庇我。我要称谢你，因我受造，奇妙可畏。你的作为奇妙，这是我心深知道的。”
Jong-rak’s desire to care for human life is good. But, is his baby box a solution or a problem? Does it save lives? Or does it encourage child abandonment? Tell us what you think.
（你可以上网听以慢速读出的这篇文章 http://www.radioenglish.net. 题目是： “The Baby Box."）
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