February 8, 2016

Another “safe haven” baby; 14th since 2001

Iowa’s “safe haven” law has been used for the 14th time and an unwanted baby will soon be adopted. Roger Munns, a spokesman for the Iowa Department of Human Services, says the baby was born on December 21. 

“A newborn baby boy was brought to an Iowa hospital shortly before Christmas after a home delivery.  The mother said she did not want the child so it was turned over to the DHS and we, in turn, placed it with a pre-adoptive foster family that intends to adopt the child,” Munns says. “The child is healthy and there will be court hearing to terminate parental rights that will be held within a month.” 

Iowa’s “safe haven” law allows a mother to leave her baby at a hospital or other health care facility, without fear of being prosecuted for abandonment. The law was passed in 2001, after the death of a newborn who was named “Baby Chelsea” by townsfolk as she was found, frozen and abandoned, near the small, eastern Iowa town of Chelsea. “Baby Chelsea’s” teenage mother later pleaded guilty to child endangerment and involuntary manslaughter, and was sentence to 10 years in prison.

“And the thought at the time was that ‘if people only knew that they could bring their unwanted children to a hospital or some other safe place, that there wouldn’t be an incriminations’ — that’s why they passed the safe haven law,” Munns says.  “And it has worked to save, now, the 14th child.” 

Munns says the other 13 babies have all been adopted.

“It is the intent with a family that has already been cleared for foster parenting and who has made it known that, if they had the opportunity, they would adopt an infant,” Munns says. 

Unwanted babies who are 14 days old or younger may be left at any health facility in the state, with no questions asked.  As in this case, the baby is turned over to the Department of Human Services and the agency places the infant with what it considers “pre-adoptive” parents.  Details of this latest case, as with all 14 “safe haven” babies in Iowa, are not being released the D.H.S. “in order to protect the identity of the parents and the child.”

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