It’s just over a month since the first use of Iowa’s “Safe Haven” law. Though the measure was created to let anyone drop off an unwanted newborn at a hospital without punishment, it was the first time someone had done that. Late in March, an infant girl was left at a hospital that the state human services department won’t identify, to keep the confidentiality of the case. Agency spokesman Roger Munns says the baby was checked out and found healthy, so then the agency turned to its list of foster homes. The state agency runs an adoption program for hard-to-place kids, which has been “a point of pride” for a few years now, and the baby was placed in one of those homes. If all goes well the baby will be adopted by that family, as the agency tries to hold down the number of “placements” a child is put in before getting a permanent home. Private agencies handle most adoptions in the state, but D-H-S runs the hard-to-place program which screens volunteers willing to take children for foster care. There are two sets of families, one that’ll offer to take foster children temporarily, and those who hope to eventually adopt a child, and this baby went to one of those homes. The state had to publish newspaper ads asking the biological parents to come forward, but it’s just a formality, says Munns. It’s quite likely that parental rights will be terminated and the would-be adoptive family can go ahead. The law was passed after an abandoned newborn was found in a farmfield near Chelsea, but at least one more infant was found dead after the Safe Haven measure became law. Officials hope word’s gotten out and any other women who has an unwanted child will hand it over at any medical facility , no questions asked.
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