Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Safe Haven Expansion

Yesterday morning in a suburb of Chicago, a 2 week old, Hispanic baby girl was bundled up, placed in a carrier and LEFT ON A GARBAGE PILE. A man looking for salvageable stuff found her at about 8am yesterday. No thanks to her parents, she's in good health and has been handed over to DCFS. Why go through all the trouble of dressing, bundling, covering with a blanket... only to leave your child in the garbage?
For the past week I've been researching whether to increase the legal age of relinquishment in Illinois from 7 days up to 30 days. At first I thought that doing so wouldn't change anything, because we still have women who abandon babies because they either don't know about the law, or are afraid to test it out. So how will increasing the age change the fact that some women are still too afraid to GO INTO a safe haven? I'll admit that I just don't know. If the law was different, would this woman have taken her baby to a safe haven instead of leaving her in the trash? No way to know. FYI, the current law only covers babies 7 days or younger. This woman would not have been covered by the Safe Haven Law if she had walked into a hospital and said, "I can't keep the baby." She'd have been directed to a crisis center, if she's lucky, or given a list of adoption agencies and told to go about her business.
What I DO know is that if we increase the age to 30 days, it will bring some much needed attention to this law, which was meant to save lives. As always, if even one life is saved by this law, isn't it worth it? If just one child is safely relinquished instead of abandoned or neglected, isn't that what matters? Don't frightened pregnant women need more options when they WANT to be responsible? When they can't keep their child, but want to keep them SAFE?


Veronica Garcia said...

Good to hear the baby made it in this cold weather we've been having. 30 days or not, bringing ANY kind of attention for SAB is a plus in my book!

Dawn said...

Wow. I don't even know what to say. I just don't get how someone could leave their baby on top of a garbage pile.

I think it would be a very wise move to move the age up to 30 days. I wouldn't even be opposed to moving it to one year. Anything that is necessary to save a child useless suffering. And anything that can be done to bring publicity to the safe haven law, which seems to be ignored half the time.

And kudos to you for working towards something so wonderful.

Chris said...

They just passed a Safe Haven law here in Nebraska but didn't clearly state the definition of a child. So what has happened in the last couple of weeks? There have been something like 12 or 13 kids dropped of at Safe Haven's in different towns and citys. Most of the children left were teenagers. One woman took her 9 children that ranged from toddler to teenager in to a local hospital and just dropped them off. I firmly support the Safe Haven laws and think they do a lot of good but it seems there need to be more definition and clarification to protect the children. I know our state legislature is working on amending the bill but to what degree I don't know yet. It makes me sad to see any child mistreated. We need to do more to protect our children.

Colleen said...

I never realized that the age was limited to 7 days. I agree that it needs to be extended to at least 30, if not 90 days. Thanks for all the work you do for Safe Haven.