April 4 was the second annual Safe Havens Awareness Day. State Senator Toni Boucher took the opportunity to call for greater public awareness of this life-saving law. Unfortunately, not enough people heard her.
Last week a baby was abandoned in downtown Danbury. The little boy was found, with his umbilical cord still attached, wrapped in women’s clothing late on May 21 in some bushes on Main Street. He was apparently in good health. His mother, a woman in her early 20s, stepped forward to police.
It was the fifth time a baby had been dangerously abandoned since the Safe Haven law took effect in Connecticut in 2000. Since that time, 31 babies have been brought safely to hospital emergency departments. Each has been adopted and placed in a safe and loving home.
In addition to saving the lives of these babies, the law also saved the parents of these children.
“If, in a moment of panic, they took actions that resulted in the death of their child, they could have been prosecuted,” Boucher said. “Instead, this law provides another option.” It has not been determined if the mother of the boy abandoned last week will face charges.
Here is how Connecticut’s Safe Haven law works:
A parent may bring an infant 30 days or younger to a hospital emergency room and avoid prosecution for abandonment.
A nurse will ask the parent for their name and for medical information on the infant and parent. The parent does not have to provide that information.
The Department of Children and Families (DCF) will obtain custody and place the baby with a family who is already licensed and intends to adopt the baby.
Safe Haven babies are placed into homes with families that adopt the child. In one instance, a Safe Haven baby was placed into a permanent home of a relative.
DCF will provide support to the baby’s new family while terminating the biological parent’s parental rights so that the adoption can become final.
Connecticut law requires that a child can only be placed by DCF with a person licensed to provide foster or adoptive care.
Giving up a child they cannot care for, to be placed in a loving home, is a loving and courageous act by parents who are undoubtedly acting in desperation. They should not be judged, but commended for doing the right thing.
The likelihood of this happening in Wilton is remote, but not impossible. Parents, teachers, counselors, and others would be doing a great service to remind not only young people but adults as well this law will protect them and their child.
Anyone interested in becoming a foster or adoptive parent, may call 888-KID-HERO or visit ctfosteradopt.com.