Abandoned baby laying in an adult's coat on a seashoreLast week, on a cold day in Portland, Oregon, a woman gave birth on a city sidewalk and walked away, leaving her baby behind. Luckily, people nearby covered the baby and alerted the authorities. The baby and mother survived, but this story could have tragically ended as it does in many cases.

Safe Haven Laws

Stories like this one led the legislators in Texas to create the first Safe Haven law in 1999, called the “Baby Moses Law.” Legislators made this law in reaction to 13 babies being abandoned that year, three of which died.
Since then, all 50 states have enacted their own versions of a Safe Haven law. In general, a Safe Haven law creates a list of safe places a parent can leave their newborn with no questions asked and no criminal liability for abandoning a child.
Since the first safe haven laws were enacted in Texas in 1999, over 3,500 babies have been surrendered to safe haven sites while over 1,400 babies have been found abandoned, with one one-third of those babies surviving. That’s a lot of babies saved, but it is also a lot of babies lost. We can do better.
Every state has its own specific Safe Haven laws. Among the state laws, the differences generally affect how old the child can be and what locations are approved as Safe Haven sites. In general, parents can leave their newborn in a designated safe place such as a church, fire station, hospital, or police station, and make sure an employee is there to ensure the baby’s safety.

Crisis Pregnancy

Facing an unexpected pregnancy can be very stressful. You or someone you know may be facing addiction issues, afraid to tell parents, in a domestic violence situation, or a number of other problems that may make someone feel they are unable to face their pregnancy. Sometimes, in these cases, an expectant mother will ignore her pregnancy until she cannot ignore it anymore, and she goes into labor.
What now? Now there is a baby she’s told no one about. If she cannot deal with the pregnancy, parenting will be even more challenging.

Doing the Right Thing for Your Baby

Times like these are when it is crucial to do the right thing for this baby. If you do not want anyone to know you had a baby, you can drop off your baby at a Safe Haven location such as a hospital, fire station, police station, or other approved site with no questions asked.
However, you’ll want to make sure someone is alerted to the fact that you are dropping off your infant. Earlier this year, a baby was left in a duffel bag outside a Chicago Fire Station on a freezing night. The baby was not discovered until the next day and sadly did not make it.
Many Safe Haven locations will have signs, and some even have Safe Haven boxes. You can place your baby in this box, which locks on the outside for safety. Then, staff inside the building get an alert to come and get the baby. You can call or text 1-888-510-BABY (2229) to get information on the Safe Haven laws and locations in your state.

Adoption is Another Option

While you or someone you know may not be ready to parent, a baby is a precious gift that deserves a good life. There are so many childless couples out there that would love to adopt your baby. You can choose your baby’s adoptive parents, receive help, and decide how much you’d like to keep in touch with your child as they grow up.
You might wonder how you can be sure your baby will be safe with the adoptive couple you pick. Lifetime’s hopeful adoptive parents have all had home studies completed and background checks done. They are ready and able to bring a baby into their safe and loving home.
If you, a friend or acquaintance, are in labor or just had a baby and do not want anyone else to know, go to a Safe Haven location. You can be sure that you will not get in any trouble. Plus, you don’t even need to share your personal information as long as you bring your baby to a safe location and make sure someone is aware you are leaving your baby there.

Don’t Throw Your Baby Away

No matter what your situation is, there is help available. Don’t throw your baby away. Keep both you and your baby safe by reaching out for help. Call or text Lifetime or the Safe Haven National hotline, and you will find a kind, caring, and non-judgmental voice on the other end ready to help.

Heather Featherston
Written by Heather Featherston

As the Vice President (VP) of Lifetime Adoption, Heather Featherston holds an MBA and is passionate about working with those facing adoption, pregnancy, and parenting issues. Heather has conducted training for birth parent advocates, spoken to professional groups, and has appeared on television and radio to discuss the multiple aspects of adoption. She has provided one-on-one support to women and hopeful adoptive parents working through adoption decisions.

Since 2002, she has been helping pregnant women and others in crisis to learn more about adoption. Heather also trains and speaks nationwide to pregnancy clinics to effectively meet the needs of women who want to explore adoption for their child. Today, she continues to address the concerns women have about adoption and supports the needs of women who choose adoption for their child.

As a published author of the book Called to Adoption, Featherston loves to see God’s hand at work every day as she helps children and families come together through adoption.