A baby girl was turned over at an Iowa hospital on July 6th, and DHS spokesperson Amy McCoy says the law was used again near the end of the month. “In this instance it was a baby boy who was born July 25th at an Iowa hospital,” McCoy says. “What happens is that infant is released to the custody of DHS and then there will be a hearing in about a month to terminate parental rights,” McCoy says.
Parents can turn over a child 14 days or younger without fear of prosecution for abandonment and DHS keeps them and the location of where the baby was turned over anonymous. She says they want to be sure the parents can turn over the baby safely with no questions asked and that’s why they keep all the details secret.
The law was enacted in 2002 after a teen mother in eastern Iowa killed her newborn, and this is the 29th time it has been used since then. McCoy says they don’t track the yearly numbers of safe haven babies and there are months where they have had more than one baby turned in and then they can go for months without one. “What we do know is the law really is working and it is a way to keep babies safe,” she says.
Past media reports on Safe Haven babies show 2015 was one of the years when the law was used the most — as there were four babies handed over through the law — including three in a period between April and August. McCoy says once the parent rights are terminated, the babies are given a new family.
“Children that are safe haven babies are placed with already approved foster or adoptive parents. And in all of the previous cases these children have been successfully adopted,” according to McCoy. She says it’s important to keep reminding Iowans that the law is available.
“Parents who are in crisis and they have newborn, they have an option,” McCoy says. “We would encourage parents who are pregnant as well if they are having any troubles to get ahold of a medical provider or someone else and they can help them get connected with services too.” Anyone interested in becoming a foster parent is encouraged to visit iowakidsnet.com.