The Iowa Department of Human Services says a child born May 12th was turned over to the state for adoption under the “safe haven” law. D.H.S. spokesman, Roger Munns, says the baby boy was born healthy in a hospital.
“The mother immediately declared that she would like to give up custody and declare a safe haven,”Munns explains. “So that launches our safe haven procedures and the child was placed into our custody and we have since found an adoptive foster family to take care of that child, and the child will later be adopted.”
Munns says they are not releasing any information on where the baby was born. “We take the spirit of the law really seriously, and what we guarantee to families is that we will protect (their) anonymity and will not asked questions if you do the right thing at the last moment. So we can’t release any information that would potentially lead to the identity of the parents,” Munns says.
The law was created after a teenage mother in eastern Iowa delivered her baby at home and then killed the baby. Munns says this is the 15th baby turned over to the state under the 10-year-old safe haven law.
“We’ve had several home delivered children that were brought hastily to the hospital just with a note saying ‘please take care of this child,’ and that’s fine. In this case it was a child that was born in the hospital, which probably preferable for safety reasons,” Munn says. He says it doesn’t matter where the child is born, but everyone should be aware that parents have 14 days to give up the baby with no questions asked.
“If you have an unwanted pregnancy of course we would recommend that you would talk to friends, or people who are important to you and make plans. Get the proper prenatal care and arrange an adoption,” according to Munns. “But if you haven’t done all those things ahead of time, then there is a fall-back position — the safe haven. Where you can bring the child to a health facility, or have the child delivered there and then declare a safe haven.”
This is the first safe haven baby turned over to the state since December of 2009. Munns says all of the safe haven babies have been successfully adopted.
Lawmakers did discuss expanding the law in their last session to allow babies up to one-year-old to be covered, but there were concerns about the impact of the change. You can find more information on the safe haven law on the D.H.S. website at: www.dhs.state.ia.us/Consumers/Safety_and_Protection/Safe_Haven.html