Safe-HavenThe Department of Human Services says a baby has been turned over to the state — the third use of the Safe Haven law in four months. DHS spokesperson, Amy Lorentzen McCoy, says the baby was turned over one week ago.

“An individual brought a healthy newborn boy to a medical center in Iowa on August 13th and asked that the child be declared a Safe Haven baby,” McCoy says. “So the infant was released to the custody of D-H-S and a court hearing will be held to terminate parental rights within the next month.”

The state does not give out any other information on the child to keep things confidential. The first Safe Haven baby of this year was turned over to the state on June 14th, followed by the second on April 15th. Both were also boys. McCoy says thisis believed to be the most babies turned over under the law in one year. The law was created 2001 in the wake of a high-profile case involving a teen mother in eastern Iowa who killed her baby after delivering it at home.

McCoy says this is the 20th time the state’s Safe Haven procedures have been used. McCoy says having three babies turned over shows there is an awareness of the law. “I think that people do see the Safe Haven cases in the news, they understand what the program is about, and they realize that this is a ‘no questions asked’ approach for a parent in crisis who can safely hand over care,” McCoy says.

All of the babies turned over under the program have been adopted. “DHS gets custody of these children, but there are chances for the parents to still go to court,” McCoy says. “But this is really a way to protect a newborn at the time of birth to make sure that they can be safe if the person doesn’t feel that they can care for them.” She says not parents have requested a return of a child after giving it up.

Babies age 14 days or younger can be turned over without the threat of prosecution for abandonment. Find out more about the Safe Haven law on the DHS website .