By Peyton Majors
Christian Action League
November 4, 2022
The inspiring true story of a baby who was abandoned next to a dumpster and grew up to be a successful millionaire should compel North Carolina legislators to pass revisions to North Carolina’s current “Safe Surrender” law, which the Christian Action League was instrumental in getting passed several years ago.
The bill, HB 473 – Revise Laws/Safe Surrender/Infants, would have updated language to expand protections for newborn infants when the mother of the child is “in a crisis or in desperation,” and believes her only alternative is to abandon her baby. Safe Surrender laws give legal protections to such parents as long the baby is unharmed and dropped off at a designated location that is set up to provide assistance and medical care. Such laws often are called “Baby Moses” laws.
The Safe Surrender law in North Carolina was first passed in 2001. The law came in the wake of an abandoned baby left for dead in a dumpster in 2000 in a Macon County landfill. The original concept behind North Carolina’s Safe Surrender law was that it be as broad as possible, allowing for “any adult” to be a proper recipient of a surrendered infant. Today, however, there are grave concerns about human trafficking and unlawful custody transfer when “any adult” can claim a surrendered infant. Moreover, this kind of category is not typical of other states.
HB 473 is specific, designating health care providers on duty at a hospital, health department, or non-profit community health center, first responders, which include fireman, law enforcement officers, and certified medical service workers, social services workers on duty at a local department of social services, as persons lawfully allowed to take temporary custody of a surrendered infant.
The Child Fatality Task Force tells the Christian Action League that it was always to someone in one of these categories whenever a parent has used the Safe Surrender law.
HB 473 passed the North Carolina House of Representatives 117-0 but was never taken up in the Senate.
“The proposed small revisions simply update the law to keep it effective,” said Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League. “We need to take care of this issue in the coming session of the North Carolina General Assembly. Over the years, it has saved the lives of dozens of little babies and provides hope to desperate mothers.”
An effective Safe Surrender law would have provided hope to the biological mother of Freddie Figgers. In 1989, she abandoned Figgers — then an infant — next to a dumpster in rural Florida. A passerby saw him and called the police.
Figgers, now 33, grew up to be a successful millionaire but faced bullying in school.
“Kids used to bully me and call me, ‘Dumpster baby,’ ‘Trash can boy,’ ‘Nobody wants you,’ ‘You’re dirty,’” he told the BBC. “I remember getting off the school bus sometimes and kids used to just come behind and grab me and throw me in a trash can and laugh at me.”
His adoptive parents always encouraged him. His father, Nathan Figgers, was a maintenance worker and handyman. His mother, Betty Mae Figgers, was a farm worker.
Nathan and Betty Mae, who took him in when he was two days old, didn’t hide the truth from him. When he was 8, Freddie asked his father about his birth.
“He said, ‘Listen I’m going to shoot it to you straight, Fred. Your biological mother, she threw you away, and me and Betty Mae, we didn’t want to send you through foster care and we adopted you, and you’re my son,’” Freddie said.
The news troubled the young boy.
“When he told me that, I was like, ‘OK I’m trash,’ and I felt unwanted. But he grabbed my shoulder and he said, ‘Listen, don’t you ever let that bother you.’”
Freddie’s father tried to boost the boy’s morale by waiting for him at the bus stop and walking him home. But that, too, led to taunts, with his schoolmates “saying, ‘Ha ha, look at the old man with the cane,’” Freddie said.
He considers his parents to be heroes.
“I saw my father always helping people, stopping on the side of the road helping strangers, feeding the homeless,” he told the BBC. “He was an incredible man, and for them to take me in and raise me, that’s the man I want to be like.”
Freddie grew up with an interest in computers, although his parents could not afford a new one. When he was nine, he and his father found a used Macintosh computer in a Goodwill.
“We persuaded the sales associate and he said, ‘Hey, I’ll give it to you for $24,’ so we took the computer home and I was just so ecstatic,” Freddie said.
The computer, though, was broken. Incredibly, Freddie fixed it.
“When I got it home and it wouldn’t come on, I took the computer apart,” Freddie said. “As I was looking in it, I saw capacitors that were broken. I had soldering guns there and I had radios and alarm clocks, so I took parts out of my father’s radio alarm clock and I soldered them into the circuit board.”
Finally, it switched on.
Having learned new skills, Freddie began repairing computers at school. Then he began repairing computers for the mayor at city hall.
At 15, he started his own computer business.
Freddie’s computer skills also came in handy at home, where he invented a combo GPS/speaker device that he placed in the shoe of his father, who had developed Alzheimer’s. The invention allowed Freddie to keep track of his father and speak to him remotely.
At age 23, Freddie sold a GPS program to a Kansas company for $2.2 million.
Today, Freddie is the founder of Figgers Wireless, a telecommunications company that is worth more than $62 million. He is married and has a daughter.
He wants his story to impact others.
“Don’t let your circumstances define who you are,” he said. “… Never give up, no matter how cold the world may look.”
“Every child born or unborn is a priceless gift from the Lord,” said Rev. Creech. “When we consider someone like Freddie Figgers, we see the unfathomable cost of seeing a child as nothing more than something to be thrown-away. Over 60 million children have been thrown away since Roe v. Wade. I don’t think we can imagine what we’ve lost. Because Roe v. Wade has now fallen, in 2023 we need to do something substantial in North Carolina to save the unborn, and we need to update our Safe Surrender laws. Whether wanted or unwanted, Children are not trash! They are our most prized possessions.”