I recently saw a graphic image on Facebook of a baby in a dumpster. Absolutely heartbreaking. What desperate situation would drive a mother to discard her baby? Don't they know there are laws in place to protect them and their child? Probably not. So I thought I would do a little research on Safe Haven laws.
The Safe Haven law also called "Baby Moses law" allows mothers to anonymously give up their infants at a designated location without facing criminal charges. You can walk right into a hospital or fire station or sometimes a church and hand your baby over and walk out. The laws are different in each state, but the premise is the same to protect newborns. After the baby has been given to a safe haven provider, the local child welfare department assumes custody and places the child usually in a preadoptive home. Child Welfare department petitions the court for termination of birth parent's parental rights. Some states require the department to check with police to make sure the baby isn't a missing child. Well, duh. I can't believe all states don't require that checkpoint. Anyway... There are also procedures in place if a nonrelinquishing father wanted to petition for custody. After the court terminates parental rights, the child can be placed for adoption. It's a rough start for the baby, but better than the alternative.
Lawmakers are currently trying to raise awareness of this law and have proclaimed April Safe Haven Awareness Month. It must be kismet that I wanted to address this topic. So spread the word and give a baby a chance.
photo credit: Mitch Diamond
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