In 1999, there was a spike in the number of babies abandoned by their birth parents. Many of these babies were left in unsafe places, and many were harmed as a result. If you are facing an unplanned pregnancy, you may be able to imagine how many of these birth mothers were feeling at the time: alone, scared, anxious, hopeless, and unsure what to do.
In response to keep babies safe, particularly in these cases where birth parents could not parent the baby, many states came up with Safe Haven laws. A baby safe haven is a place that a birth parent can leave their newborn baby, safely, such as a hospital or fire station, and not be prosecuted. If you have seen shows like NBC’s This is Us, or CBS’ Code Black, you have likely heard of a baby safe haven laws.
If you are pregnant and are unsure what to do, you are certainly not alone. Across the United States, thousands of young women are facing unintended pregnancies. Many, like you, may not feel ready to parent a baby for life. They may be exploring other options. In this article, we will explain baby safe havens and what they can mean for your baby. We will also share helpful information about a positive, alternative option: adoption.
Baby Safe Havens:
Safe Haven Infant Protection Laws allow a person to leave a baby anonymously in a safe specified location. As long as the child has not been abused, the birth parent may use a baby safe haven without facing charges. The purpose of these laws is to protect babies from being hurt or dying as a result of neglect.
Perhaps you have heard heartbreaking stories of infants left in dumpsters. The birth mothers responsible may have been under severe emotional stress. Perhaps they had hidden their pregnancies, fearful of the reaction of their families. They may have been in an abusive relationship and fearful of the birth father becoming angered by the situation. They may have felt like they had no other options and nowhere to turn. Whatever the reason, these mothers abandoned their baby. All too often, this abandonment results in the baby’s death. It is also illegal, and results in arrest and prosecution if found. Safe haven laws work to avoid these tragedies, providing birth parents with safe places to leave their newborns.
Many states have adopted different Safe Haven Laws, so it is important to reach out to a knowledgeable professional regarding the laws of your state. In Massachusetts, for example, a parent may legally surrender newborn infants 7 days old or younger at a hospital, police station, or manned fire station without facing criminal prosecution.
According to the National Safe Haven Alliance, over 2,000 babies have been positively impacted by the Baby Safe program in the United States. Many of these babies have been adopted by loving families. However, most babies left in a safe haven do end up in the foster care system. Children in foster care can stay there for many years, without a permanent family. If your child goes to foster care, you will likely not know (or have any say in) who adopts your baby.
While the Safe Haven laws have protected the lives of many babies and birth mothers, there is an alternative path for those who want to ensure a happy and healthy life for their baby. At Adoptions With Love, we understand that facing an unplanned pregnancy can be scary and overwhelming. Often, it is a time of complete crisis. We want expectant/birth mothers to know that adoption is an option for you. No matter how far along you are in your pregnancy, and even if you have already given birth, you can make an adoption plan for your baby. Adoption is a positive and loving choice for many reasons, such as:
- Adoption puts you in control. Instead of dropping your child off at a fire station or leaving him/her at a hospital, never knowing what will happen, adoption allows the birth mother to make more decisions for her baby. You can hand-select the adoptive family. You can imagine the kind of life you want for your child. You can even maintain contact with the adoptive family and child, with a custom-made open adoption plan.
- Adoption gives you the gift of time. It gives you time to think over your decision, and imagine the kind of life you want for your unborn baby. With adoption, you need not feel that you are neglecting or “giving up your baby.” Instead, you can take your time to consider your decision and make a thoughtful plan for his or her life. You also gain support from a private adoption agency, such as Adoptions With Love, that will guide you through the adoption process. With an adoption agency, you will also find great emotional, physical, and financial support during pregnancy and long after the adoption is complete.
- Adoption gives you support and guidance. Your adoption agency’s social workers will sit with you to discuss your options and create your ideal birth and adoption plan. You will also be able to discuss your experience, feelings, and questions with a caring counselor any time of day. Unlike a Baby Safe Haven, where you leave your child and are left dealing with the emotional consequences all alone, you will have a network of professionals who care about you and your baby. They will check-in regularly and be your shoulder to lean on, all at no cost to you. There are a variety of services an adoption agency can provide, such as legal assistance and help finding prenatal care, completely free of charge.
At Adoptions With Love, we want the best for birth mothers and their babies. If you are facing an unplanned pregnancy and are unsure of what to do, let us help. We can chat with you about your options, with zero pressure or judgment. We are here for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Call us – for free and confidentially – toll-free at 1-800-722-7731, or text us confidentially at 617-777-0072.