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14 years and counting for Illinois Safe Haven law

It is hard for most parents to imagine, but there are some people out there who simply don't want their children. Many young mothers and fathers go to extremes to hide the birth of a child from family and friends, even throwing their babies away like garbage. Here in Illinois, individuals facing the unwanted birth of a child are fortunate enough to have the Safe Haven law as a way to safely turn their baby over to authorities without facing the legal consequences that doing harm to a child might have. As the Chicago Tribune reports, after 14 years the law and the programs supporting it are still going strong.

The Safe Haven law allows parents of a newborn baby during its first month of life to be turned over to authorities at a Safe Haven location. The locations that offer this service include police stations, hospitals, emergency medical facilities, and fire stations.

The law was enacted 14 years ago as a way to protect newborn babies from being abandoned or killed by their parents. In support of the law, the volunteer-staffed Save Abandoned Babies Foundation reaches out to area communities hit with these types of tragedies to remind caregivers of the option to safely turn unwanted babies over to authorities.

Parents that exercise their right to turn a baby over at a Safe Haven location can leave once the child has been looked over for evidence of harm. The child is then taken to a medical facility to get the attention and care it needs. Once the initial process is complete, the child may be placed for adoption with a pre-approved family.

Parents who give up their children through the Safe Haven law can petition to reclaim their child within the first two months after being turned over. If they do not wish to reclaim their child, their parental rights are then terminated. For the families wishing to adopt these orphaned children, the first 60 days can be agonizing. Sometimes, even after an individual's parental rights have been taken away, they want to keep in contact with their child. For adoptive parents this interference by the child's biological parents may lead to a lengthy and emotional legal battle. For those faced with this type of custody issue speaking to a family law attorney may help.

Source: Chicago Tribune, "How many abandoned babies are saved? Plus how Illinois' law works (charts),"Jemal Brinson, Nov. 17, 2015

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