Safe Surrender

     

  Many women who become pregnant unintentionally find it very difficult to decide what to do next. There are the obvious choices of abortion, adoption, and motherhood; but what happens if a woman chooses motherhood and then realizes that she is unable to properly care for the child? In some cases mothers have abandoned their babies, which could lead to the baby's death. Now, because of multiple cases of infant abandonment, 47 states have passed the Safe Surrender Baby Law to help save these children.

       The Safe Surrender Baby Law went into effect on January 1, 2001. This law states that, "a parent or person with lawful custody may surrender a baby confidentially, without fear of arrest or prosecution for child abandonment." It also states that the baby must be surrendered within three days of birth, and it allows for a fourteen-day "cooling off period" during which parents may return to regain custody of their baby. Safe Surrender locations are usually public service locations such as fire stations, police stations, and emergency rooms. When a baby is taken to a Safe Surrender location, the parent will not be asked any personal questions as long as the child shows no signs of abuse. However, the parent may be asked a few questions about their medical history so that, if needed, the child can be properly treated. The parent will be given a copy of the identification bracelet, placed on the baby, in case the parent decides to return for the child. As soon as the child is taken to the Safe Surrender location it is placed in a foster home. If the parent does not return within the 14 day "cooling off period" the child is then put up for adoption.

       The campaign adopted the saying "No Shame, No Blame, No Names," because the purpose of the program is an attempt to give distressed mothers a place to go without fear of being arrested or having family and friends know what has happened. The hope is that by giving these parents somewhere safe and anonymous to take their baby, they will be less likely to abandon their child in a dangerous location.

       If you know a woman who may be in need of the Safe Surrender services you can find a Safe Surrender location near you at www.SafeSurrenderSite.com. This web page also contains detailed information on the law and the program. It also has information on volunteer and donation opportunities.