Thousands of infants are illegally and unsafely abandoned in the U.S. every year. It’s thought that many women/parents who abandon their infants do so unsafely is because they are often unaware that they have other, safer options. Every state in this country has a safe haven law set in place for this exact reason, to assist in saving the lives of children who might otherwise come to harm. Because an over-whelmed parent unaware of all of their possible options. I am astounded at times, at the number of stories I see on the news or read in the paper about abandoned children. The details of which are often scary and tragic. My heart breaks a little bit every time, especially with all the many capable parents in the world who want so desperately to provide a safe and happy home for children because they can not have their own. There are more than enough parents to care for kids whose biological parents can’t, so no child should be left behind. And I believe somewhere inside of many of these women despite whatever circumstances that cause them to relinquish responsibility over their children, many of them are doing what they believe is best at the time. Some are also just irresponsible and don’t deserve the privilege of parenthood.
Ignorance and trauma are powerful things. To be in a multitude of stressful situations where you feel there is no way out, compounded by another mouth to feed and baby to care for, can lead to these types of horrific mistakes. I don’t in any way condone or approve of the abandoning of a child anywhere other than a safe haven where the proper authorities can help, but for every person who doesn’t know they have another option there is a child who may not make it.
This problem is beginning to feel like an epidemic in our country. According to the National Safe Haven Alliance, in the late 1990’s there was a surge in infant abandonment, many ending tragically and resulting in the death of these babies. These laws were instilled so that unharmed infants could be relinquished without the parents being afraid of persecution, which many are. Some worry that a current or past criminal history will land them in jail if they willingly step forward and try to give up a child. The first law was adopted and practiced in Texas in 1999.
Although each state has a safe haven law in place, the law itself within any given state does vary. However if people are educated and made aware of all of their options, I believe they could and would make better, safer and smarter decisions in regards to the infants they can’t care for appropriately. In general these law state that an unharmed child can usually be dropped off at any place, usually a police station, hospital or fire station, no questions asked and without legal persecution.
I am intensely effected by every story that I hear where these tragedies occur. If even one person reads this and is aware of that there are resources and help out there for them or someone they may know then I will be happy. No more leaving babies on subway platforms or in back alleys. I wasn’t sure how I could possibly help. Then I realized sharing information is one of the best ways to help and inform.
Questions about Baby Safe Haven Laws or to get involved and promote these laws in your state.
1 (703) 496-4980
There is even a crisis hotline for anyone you may know who needs help or guidance.
1 (888) 510- BABY
There are resources and help out there and it is the responsibility of those of us who know more to help and educate the parental population that does not.