Families Need Protection from Baby Safe Haven

With only one option provided, no questions asked and no help provided, frightened young moms are giving birth on their own and then doing the best they know how for their newborn sons and daughters by abandoning them at fire stations, churches, hospitals. Billed as a protection for both mothers and babies, in fact not only mothers and babies but also fathers need protection from this law.

Marion, IA (PRWEB) May 13, 2004 -- According to the advertisements for the Indiana baby safe haven "Drop-Off Program": "The law gives newborns protection and frightened mothers an option...If you don't want your baby or if you know someone who doesn't, Indiana law allows you to drop-off the newborn at any fire station or other emergency medical provider, with no questions asked."

In the advertisement is a picture of a healthy, normal looking mom with white features. In her arms, she's holding an even whiter-looking baby: Just the kind of baby that is most in demand for adoption.

National Adoption Information Clearinghouse (NAIC) data show that 43 states in the United States have enacted baby safe haven legislation.

Prior to the enactment of these laws, it was primarily mothers on drugs or with mental problems (including extreme fear of discovery) who abandoned babies. These mothers probably would not be too concerned about looking for a safe haven to leave their child, regardless how much advertising there is. If the ads do target drug-addicted mothers, then why is it that nowhere in the ads is there information for pregnant moms to obtain drug rehabilitation which might prevent brain damage to their unborn child and thereby avoid future social problems?

As the advertisements for baby safe havens state, they give frightened moms one option: To abandon their child.

There's no rape counseling mentioned. There is no offer of family counseling mentioned that might relieve tension between a frightened young pregnant mom and her parents, and no mention that telling parents just might result in unexpected support that would help her keep her baby.

There's nothing in the ads for safe havens encouraging fathers to take responsibility for their children and no protection of fathers' parental rights.

There's nothing about birth control, which might prevent a pregnancy.

There's no suicide prevention hotline for a mother after she's lost her child to government sanctioned abandonment, either.

There is nothing that would direct a mother to Women, Infants and Children (WIC) to obtain assistance that would help a mother maintain her own and her unborn child's health. There's nothing about Medicaid for pregnant women or insurance for children.

While the people who adopt are being provided financial help from the government until the adopted child is 18, moms are made to feel guilty for considering even some temporary assistance which would help them care for their own child.

Information which might help a mother make an informed decision, such as the serious effects of separating a mother and child, is not disclosed in these ads for safe havens. In "Known Consequences of Separating Mother and Child at Birth and Implications for Further Study", which is available on the internet, Wendy Jacobs, B.Sc., B.A. provides an overview of the effects which have been reported since the 1950's. She notes: "...the ripple effect of adoption means it is an issue that affects thousands of families throughout their lifetimes, the lifetimes of succeeding generations, and ultimately our whole society and its future."

With safe haven laws in effect, lots of newborn babies are now being abandoned, both "safely" and unsafely.

Is it a coincidence that baby safe haven laws are being enacted at a time when more parents who know their daughters are pregnant are willing to support their daughters in keeping their babies? At a time when more and more adoptions are "open", providing some contact between the child and his/her natural parents? Some people seeking to adopt write about how they want a child with no "birthparents" that will come looking for them "ten years down the road"? In their quest for a child to call their "own" and not share, prospective adopters may not consider how the adoptee will feel knowing he/she has been abandoned and having no information. These prospective adopters may be interested to know that DNA testing is now being used to successfully reunite adoptees and natural parents, even in international adoptions.

Regarding these frightened young mothers who leave their newborn son or daughter at a safe haven, I can only imagine what heartache and anguish they must be going through and no one to share it with, possibly for the rest of their life.

I have heard people speculate that these mothers would have killed their children if not for the "opportunity" to drop them off. After encouraging a frightened mother in the first place, they accuse her of being a potential murderer. But, isn't it just as easy to speculate that if she had not seen all this advertising encouraging baby abandonment at a "safe haven" she would have told someone and had medical and moral support while giving birth and afterwards? She might be holding her baby in her arms today, proudly showing her off to everyone.

Being abandoned by his mother (and father?) is not so "safe" for a child. The serious effects of familial separation and maternal deprivation on a child are known, but are not well-publicized. Adoptee Betty Jean Lifton's book "Journey of the Adopted Self: A Quest For Wholeness" should be required reading for everyone in North America.

Feelings of loss, grief, rejection and shame as well as identity issues, intimacy problems and problems with the evolution of self-control are all identified as life-long issues for adoptees, natural parents and even for the people who adopt in Deborah N. Silverstein and Sharon Kaplan's "Lifelong Issues in Adoption" available on the internet.

Children, especially newborns, need the security of their mothers. Fathers need to be encouraged to nurture their children and expected and even required to support them. Mothers in such desperate straights deserve the encouragement to seek real help, not the encouragement to give up hope and abandon their babies.

When all else fails, a child's heritage should never be withheld from him/her.

Bastard Nation, which bills itself as "the adoptee rights organization" has the following statement on their website: "Safe Haven laws, despite their good intent, are ultimately anti-adoptee, anti-adoption, anti-child, anti-woman, and anti-family. They erase identities, deny the rights and due process of parents, and reject time-tested best practice."

One moment of fear over some temporary situation and a mother and father may have lost their child forever. I hope all mothers who have been duped by this ill-considered safe haven project take steps to get their baby back. I hope all fathers whose rights have been by-passed all together take steps to get their baby back. I hope someone cares enough about these children to give them back, without a fight.

Unfortunately there is an incentive not to return the children to their families: Thanks to the 1997 Adoption and Safe Families Act when a child, even a healthy baby, is adopted out of foster care, there is $4000 or $6000 bonus to be made from the federal government. This bonus was intended to help children already in foster care who truly need a home, not to encourage the unnecessary separation of family members.

There are many factors contributing to the wide support that safe haven laws have received. But the problems inherent with the safe haven laws cannot be overstated. Mothers, fathers and their children as well as grandparents and other family members including future generations who may be affected, are human beings.    Parents deserve real information and real options rather than to be lured, completely unaware of the serious consequences, into abandoning their own child.

Laurie Frisch
Marion, IA

"Protecting the Rights of Mothers and Natural Families"


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