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Founder of the "baby hatch hospital" honored with Medal of Merit

Founder of the "baby hatch hospital" honored with Medal of Merit

Berlin, 09.11.2011 [APD-CH]. Gabriele Stangl, pastor of the Waldfriede Adventist hospital in Berlin-Zehlendorf, received the Medal of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany (awarded by the Federal President Christian Wulff) from the mayor of the Steglit

November 18, 2011 | APD-CH


Berlin, 09.11.2011 [APD-CH]. Gabriele Stangl, pastor of the Waldfriede Adventist hospital in Berlin-Zehlendorf, received the Medal of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany (awarded by the Federal President Christian Wulff) from the mayor of the Steglitz-Zehlendorf district, Norbert Kopp, in Berlin. The district office justified the award in a press release, as follows: "Mrs. Stangl advocates for women suffering psychosocial distress and for their babies in an impressive way: she started the 'baby hatch project' in the Waldfriede hospital in Berlin-Zehlendorf in 2000." Thus, desperate mothers can anonymously leave their babies in that baby hatch.
Gabriele was born in 1961 in Braunau am Inn, Austria. She studied theology and education at the Austrian Seventh-day Adventist Bogenhofen theological seminary. She also taught Hebrew, Old Testament subjects and German language for foreigners there, before starting to work as chaplain at the Wittelsbach Adventist nursing home, in the upper Bavarian Bad Aibling. She has been chaplain at the Waldfriede Hospital in Berlin since 1996. Three years ago, the "Association of Adventist Women", a private lay organization in Seattle, Washington State, named Gabriele Stangl "Woman of the Year 2008".
Bernd Quoss, managing director of the Waldfriede hospital, praised the "hard work structure" of the "baby hatch" founded by Pastor Stangl, who has now gained public recognition through this award. He stressed that the chaplain had done this work almost exclusively in her spare time and that she had had to struggle with a great deal of opposition.
The "cradle", as the "baby hatch" is called at Waldfriede hospital, is a green box. It is secluded at the rear of the clinic’s building A and is accessible by a single entrance which is not video-monitored. If a mother opens the hatch and puts her newborn in the baby hatch, sensors trigger a delayed alarm from the continuously manned gatehouse so that the mother has enough time to leave the area undetected, reported Stangl. The baby will be immediately brought to the nursery and placed under medical care. The hospital informs the youth office, which hands care over to a specially trained foster family. The mother can take back her child during the following eight weeks. If she doesn't do so, the baby is put up for adoption.

Pastor Stangl developed the idea of the baby hatch during her work as a hospital chaplain. "An 80-year-old woman spoke only on her deathbed about the killing of her child. A pregnant woman had to be sent away by the hospital because she was not ready to reveal her identity. When I heard that in Hamburg a baby hatch had been set up, I had the idea that a hospital is best suited for such a thing. I've found support not only in our clinic, but also among competent authorities", said Stangl.
About 20 newborns have been laid in the "baby cradle" over the last ten years and some 110 women have given birth anonymously in the hospital. "But 95 percent of the women who gave birth anonymously with us eventually found the courage to give up their anonymity after intensive psychological support", said Pastor Stangl. Sometimes, after a few months, mothers showed up to report that their children had been placed in the "cradle". One out of three women finally keeps the baby. But most of the other women who give their babies up for adoption want their children to find out later who their mother is. The average age of these women is between 27 and 34. "Each of these women is terrified for various reasons that her pregnancy might become known", said the hospital chaplain.

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