A woman has revealed the trauma of being abandoned outside a block of flats as a baby.
Toyin Odumala was wrapped in a denim jacket at the top of a flight of stairs leading to flats in Plumstead, south-east London, in 2001.
She was later found by dog walkers and taken to hospital, before being named Osie after a registrar on duty.
Keeping Osie as her 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, he found himself searching for answers around his family.
She questioned: ‘I felt like why did they abandon me? Why has this happened to me? I always blame myself and think: 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.
Memories of the past arose when Toyin learned of the recent similar 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 intersection in sub-zero temperatures last month, before being found by a dog walker.
Hospital staff then named him after the main character from the Disney movie Frozen.
Toyin recalled: “I was on TikTok and saw a video of baby Elsa appear, which brought back all the pain. Because of what I’ve been through, I was very emotional.
‘Something has to be done because it is still happening. Baby Elsa shows that it is something that is still going on.
‘We don’t really know how many babies have been abandoned; The statistics refer only to those that were found.
‘It was very cold when they left baby Elsa. Luckily for me, I was born in summer. She’s lucky to still be here.’
After being found in 2001, Toyin was placed in care for four months before being taken in by her Nigerian adoptive parents; At age 11, she was told how she had been abandoned when she was a baby.
Shortly after she was born, she was left wrapped in a denim jacket at the top of a flight of stairs leading to apartments in Plumstead in 2001.
Following an earlier appeal, Toyin’s biological mother came forward and was granted the opportunity to contact her.
The couple exchanged letters and her mother revealed that she did not have the correct documents to remain 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 biological mother still lives in the UK and that Toyin has four half-siblings.
Speaking about the possibility of meeting her birth mother in person, Toyin said: ‘Some days I do, some days I don’t. It would be hard to meet someone knowing she left me there. But maybe someday.’
To help others, the 22-year-old has launched a campaign to introduce baby boxes across the UK.
She believes mothers should be given an alternative option to leave their children somewhere they know they will be cared for, something baby boxes could provide.
The boxes, also sometimes called baby hatches, are provided in many European countries, as well as in the United States and China, to allow mothers to anonymously abandon their babies in a safe place, to be cared for and cared for.
Temperature-controlled hatches are installed in 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 appear, which brought back all the pain. Because of what I’ve been through, I was very moved.’
Speaking about the possibility of meeting her birth mother in person, Toyin said: ‘Some days I do, some days I don’t. It would be hard to meet someone knowing she left me there. But maybe someday
In the United States, parents who abandon their babies in Safe Haven Baby Boxes are protected from prosecution if they use a trapdoor and the baby is healthy.
In the UK, previous studies have estimated that around 16 babies are abandoned each year.
Toyin started a Cambio.org petition to introduce these boxes in the United Kingdom and already has more than 39,000 signatures.
She said: ‘My personal experience drives my campaign. I’m sure other people who have gone through this have felt the same.
‘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 expectant mothers by offering mental health support and advice in safe spaces that can help reduce the number of women making the painful decision to abandon their newborns.
‘It’s not just about saving lives; “It is about providing support to those who feel they have no other options.”
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.
He said mental health services in England were being expanded to include new mental health centers for new, pregnant or bereaved mothers.