Saturday, January 2, 2010

Safe Haven Stuff

As of January 1, the Safe Haven law in Illinois was extended to 30 days, up from 7. Meaning a parent could go into a police or fire station, or a hospital, and give their baby up for adoption. Anonymously, if they choose (and they do)
Yesterday this happened. A six month old girl was left at a police station.
Now, the bottom line is that the parents kept the girl safe, even if they couldn't keep her. I won't judge them, no one knows the situations that led to this. I'm thankful they followed the spirit of the law, if not the letter of the law.
That said, I'm concerned that extending safe haven to 30 days looses the original intent. The point of the law was to allow a women who had hidden a pregnancy the option to give her baby up for adoption without anyone knowing she had been pregnant. It was to keep women from hurting, hiding or dumping their babies. But moving it up to 30 days gives this a very different meaning. When you've had a baby for 30 days, your family, friends, and neighbors know about it, so anonymity is kind of shot. Those women who have attempted to parent for 29 days and say that they can't do it need a different kind of help.
Parents need to know that there are agencies out there to help them. That if you truly want to proceed with adoption, you can do so at ANY time, and you don't need safe haven. If you want to keep your child but feel overwhelmed, there are places to turn for help. If you need a few days to sort yourself out, there is Maryville Crisis Nursery - or a number of other crisis nurseries - that will care for your child and point you in the right direction to get the help you need.

When I started working with Safe Haven, my opinion was that anyone should be able to relinquish a child at any time. I'd rather have a 2 year old left safely at a hospital than a 2 year old abused and kept at home. It's more complex than that, obviously. Some parents will try their hardest and simply feel they can't do it. Some will abuse or neglect a child before giving him or her up. Some will kill their children. Trying to write one law that reaches out to all of them is just too much to ask.


Dawn said...

It's a tough situation. I agree with completely on all accounts and yet there seems to be no good answer.

Midwest Mommy said...

Wow, it is so hard. She seems like she was well taken care of and it must have been so hard for her mother or father. It's one of those things where education needs to take place and word needs to spread about other programs. Safe Haven is out there right now and spreading but people may not know about other options. So hard and so heartbreaking.