Safe Haven Laws
We understand this story because it happens often. A baby is born, hopefully in a hospital, but oftentimes at home, in a dorm room at college, or in a public restroom. Now this woman, who has been through so much, is looking at this tiny baby and is not prepared to parent this child. She just wants the whole thing to go away. The next step she takes is going to affect both their lives forever.
Safe Haven laws have been enacted as one solution to address these situations.
According to the Child Welfare Information Gateway, “…infant Safe Haven laws have been enacted as an incentive for mothers in crisis to safely relinquish their babies to designated locations where the babies are protected and provided with medical care until a permanent home is found. Safe Haven laws generally allow the parent, or an agent of the parent, to remain anonymous and to be shielded from criminal liability and prosecution for child endangerment, abandonment, or neglect in exchange for surrendering the baby to a safe haven.”
These laws do vary from state to state, but every state has a version of Safe Haven laws. If a parent chooses this option, she will know her baby is safe, and she will not be in trouble. She can remain unknown.
There is another option and what many don’t know is the woman can still maintain her privacy, and the whole process can remain confidential. Adoption is a safe, private way to make sure this baby is cared for and placed in a loving home. How involved she is in the adoption is up to her. She can choose open adoption and select the parents for her baby, get updates if she wants, or she can ask that it be a closed adoption. In this case, the adoption coordinator will choose the parents she feels will be the best match, and the birth mother can keep her identity private. The birth mother can then carry on with her life knowing her child is safe and well cared for.
We recently got a call from Ellie*. She had just given birth in her room while away in college. She was frightened and a bit panicky. She didn’t want her friends or parents to know she had been pregnant and now she had this baby in her arms. She didn’t know what to do. She called our hotline at 2:00 in the morning and was relieved to hear a calm, friendly voice on the other end. Our adoption coordinator was able to get her the help she needed and had some very excited adoptive parents there that day to pick up the baby. She was relieved to be able to talk to somebody about her whole situation and more relieved that it would all remain confidential.
It is important to understand that the difference between Safe Haven and adoption is that with adoption, you don’t walk away and spend the rest of your life wondering where your baby is. It may seem like a crisis right now, but reach out for adoption help and hope, so you can make an adoption plan and see your child grow up, even if you choose to keep in touch at a distance.
If you or someone you know is in this position, reach out today. An adoption coordinator is always available 24/7 to talk or text with you. You will find a non-judgmental coordinator with solutions that will help you through this time. It is never too late to choose adoption for your baby.
*name changed for privacy reasons