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Social Workers Help Abandoned Babes Find New Homes

Baby Jane Doe. Photo courtesy of the Boston Globe.

Baby Jane Doe. Photo courtesy of the Boston Globe.

Kudos to the Boston Globe for “Abandoned to Happiness,” an article on the Massachusetts “Safe Haven” law.  The law allows mothers to anonymously drop off newborns at hospitals instead of abandoning them. The article mentioned how social workers found a home for “Baby Jane Doe,” one of a dozen babies surrendered under the law.

For more information on how social workers help people who want to foster parent or adopt visit the National Association of Social Workers “Help Starts Here” Adoptions and Foster Care Web page.

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  1. I applaud the good intentions, however, Safe Haven laws are based on mistruths and stereotypes of single women who have no resources. Saying that a woman not able to anonymously abandon her baby at the hospital would sooner leave her child to die in a dumpster (as stated in the article) is one of the most offensive statements against women I’ve ever heard. This is yet another outdated societal stigma perpetuated against women, the poor and the disenfranchised. The fact of the matter is, those who would kill and harm their own child are very different than those who feel they are unable to parent or are poor and without resources and bring their child to a hospital, agency, church or anywhere else they feel is safe.

    Women who feel they cannot parent….
    -must be given counseling
    -should be required to give information
    -should be allowed to change their minds
    -should have every opportunity possible to receive resources and help before they make a decision.

    Allowing a woman to abandon her child without any of those things enables her to give up a child without being offered resources or a follow-up or being given the opportunity for someone to help her find another option. It also allows society to skip out on caring for its dependants and puts yet another child who already has a parent into the system.

    Children who do not have food and clothes do not need new parents; they need food and clothes.

    What a greater injustice it is to those children who will never have biological ties, whose loss has little likelihood to be mended later, who may spend their lives without an on-going family medical history (which I can tell you as an adoptee, is absolutely necessary) and be unable to celebrate their biological heritages.

    Here is an excerpt from a letter to the Governor of Hawaii written by the American Adoption Congress in opposition to Safe Haven legislation (at the time Hawaii’s legislation was being proposed, there had been no unsafe abandonments in over 11 years–there was no need for it):

    “All relinquished or abandoned children are entitled to the truth about themselves, including birth, histories, family medical histories, and social, ethnic and religious histories. Medical histories in particular are essential for the health of the children and their descendants. While HB1830 requires that the person leaving the newborn provide written information on the family medical history, it is unrealistic to expect a birth mother in a crisis pregnancy to do more than hurriedly leave the baby on the doorstep of the hospital or fire station and quickly leave the scene.

    “Safe haven” bills are misguided because mothers who kill or abandon their children are so distraught that they are not likely to know or care about penalties and exemptions in a state’s criminal code. Recently a college student from a well-to-do family in Pennsylvania smothered her newborn son within minutes of his birth and drove for a week with the baby’s body in the trunk of her car Pennsylvania has a safe haven law on its books, but the birth mother was in such a state of denial that she did nothing to prepare for the birth of her child. Unfortunately, this is more the norm in most of these situations.”

    (Mary Martin Mason, Legislation Director, American Adoption Congress, June 2007).

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