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I was left wrapped in a denim jacket outside a block of flats as a newborn baby – I have been asking myself the same question ever since


A woman has revealed the trauma of being left abandoned outside a block of flats as a baby.

Toyin Odumala was left wrapped in a demin jacket at the top of a flight of stairs leading up to flats in Plumstead, south east London in 2001.

She was later found by dog walkers and was taken to hospital, before being named Osie after a registrar on duty.

Keeping Osie as a middle name, she was later named Toyin by her adoptive parents who took her in four months after she was placed in care.

Growing up she found herself searching for answers surrounding her family. 

She questioned: ‘I just felt like, why was I abandoned? Why did this happen to me? I just always blame myself, like, am I not enough? I always had questions I just didn’t understand’.

After being abandoned outside a block of flats as a newborn baby, Toyin Odumala has always been plagued with questions

After being abandoned outside a block of flats as a newborn baby, Toyin Odumala has always been plagued with questions

Past memories were triggered when Toyin heard about the similar recent case of baby Elsa – a newborn who was abandoned in Newham, East London.

The newborn girl was abandoned in a shopping bag at a London crossroads in below freezing temperatures last month, before being found by a dog walker.

She was then named after the main character from the Disney movie Frozen by hospital staff. 

Toyin recalled: ‘I was on TikTok and saw a video of baby Elsa come up, which brought back all the pain. Because of what I have been through, I was very triggered by it.

‘Something has to be done because it’s still happening. Baby Elsa shows it’s something that’s still going on.

‘We don’t really know how many babies have been dumped – the statistics are only for the ones who were found.

‘It was freezing when baby Elsa was left. Luckily for me, I was born in the summer. She’s lucky to still be here’.

After being found in 2001, Toyin was placed into care for four months before being taken in by her adoptive Nigerian parents – at age 11, they told her about how she had been abandoned as a baby.

Shortly after being born, she had been left wrapped up in a denim jacket at the top of a flight of stairs leading up to flats in Plumstead in 2001

Shortly after being born, she had been left wrapped up in a denim jacket at the top of a flight of stairs leading up to flats in Plumstead in 2001

Following a previous appeal, Toyin’s birth mother came forward and she was granted the opportunity to contact her.

The pair exchanged letters and her mother revealed she did not have the correct papers to stay in the UK when she abandoned her daughter, and thought she would have to return to the Ivory Coast.

The letter also revealed that her birth mother is still living in the UK and Toyin has four half-siblings.

Talking about the possibility of meeting her birth mother in person, Toyin said: ‘Some days I do want to, some I don’t. It would be hard to meet someone knowing she left me there. But maybe one day’.

To help others, the 22-year-old has launched a campaign for baby boxes to be introduced across the UK. 

She believes mothers should be given an alternative option to leave their child somewhere they know it will be cared for, which baby boxes could provide. 

The boxes, also sometimes called baby hatches, are provided in many European countries as well as the United States and China to allow mothers to anonymously abandon their babies in a safe place, for them to be looked after and cared for. 

The temperature-controlled hatches are installed at hospitals and fire stations and have sensors that alert emergency services when a baby is placed inside.

Toyin recalled: 'I was on TikTok and saw a video of baby Elsa come up, which brought back all the pain. Because of what I have been through, I was very triggered by it'

Toyin recalled: ‘I was on TikTok and saw a video of baby Elsa come up, which brought back all the pain. Because of what I have been through, I was very triggered by it’

Talking about the possibility of meeting her birth mother in person, Toyin said: 'Some days I do want to, some I don't. It would be hard to meet someone knowing she left me there. But maybe one day'

Talking about the possibility of meeting her birth mother in person, Toyin said: ‘Some days I do want to, some I don’t. It would be hard to meet someone knowing she left me there. But maybe one day’

In the US, parents who abandon their babies in Safe Haven Baby Boxes are given protection from prosecution if they use a hatch and the baby is healthy.

In the UK, previous studies have estimated that around 16 babies are abandoned every year.

Toyin started a Change.org petition to get these boxes into the UK, and it already boasts more than 39,000 signatures.

She said: ‘My personal experience drives my campaign. I’m sure other people who have been through it have felt similarly.

‘A lot of people have messaged me on social media saying it’s a good idea and the boxes should be in the UK. I just think it’s something that should be an option here.

‘The UK needs these boxes; we need to support new and expecting mothers by offering them mental health support and advice in safe spaces which can help reduce the number of women making the painful decision to abandon their newborns.

‘This is not just about saving lives; it’s about providing support for those who feel they have no other options left’.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) says improving care before, during and after pregnancy was one of its top priorities, but did not comment on Toyin’s petition.

It said mental health services around England were being expanded to include new mental health hubs for new, expectant or bereaved mothers.



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