Safe Haven laws have saved another baby’s life, after a couple surrendered their newborn safely at a fire station in Illinois.
According to WLS, a baby girl just a few hours old was handed into the arms of a firefighter before leaving. “The baby is healthy, so we are still monitoring. They handed the baby to the firefighter and they immediately left the area,” Cicero Police Deputy Superintendent Luis Gutierrez told WLS. “The fire official brought the baby into the firehouse and began to assess the infant, at which time they transported the baby to the hospital.” State officials are now looking for a family to adopt the infant.
Under Illinois’ Safe Haven Law, parents can leave their baby, no questions asked, at hospitals, emergency care facilities, police stations and staffed fire stations. If the baby is less than 30 days old and is not harmed, then no charges will be filed whatsoever. “The most important thing is the child’s welfare. So when they are in a situation and they need to drop off a child, that is the best location. It is a safe haven location – the firehouse, or the police department,” Gutierrez said. 137 infants total have been safely surrendered since the law was put into place in 2001. According to the Illinois Save Abandoned Babies Foundation, this is exactly why it was enacted.
“Somebody is going to have a very wonderful Christmas present under their tree this year,” Dawn Geras, president of the foundation, told WLS, applauding the parents for doing the right thing. “They took loving, responsible actions to make sure that this baby girl was going to be OK. If they are listening, I bless them and I thank them and I reassure them that this baby will be loved and cherished and taken care of.”
Virtually every state has some form of Safe Haven law, though a few states, like California, have stricter requirements for where and when a baby can be safely and legally surrendered. Thanks to these laws, parents who feel overwhelmed and realize they cannot take care of their child will not face charges. Baby boxes are also a growing trend; one organization, Safe Haven Baby Boxes, is a non-profit started by firefighter Monica Kelsey, who herself was abandoned as an infant. The boxes allow a parent to surrender their baby without any face-to-face interaction. The boxes, which are installed at fire stations or hospitals, sound an alarm within seconds of the baby being deposited. After the baby is placed inside, the exterior door locks, so only firefighters or medical professionals can retrieve the baby from the interior door. One baby was recently saved in Indiana through the use of a baby box; firefighters responded within 90 seconds to the alarm and retrieved the infant.
It is an enormously difficult decision for a parent to choose to save their child’s life in this way, but parents who do so are to be commended, not condemned. So many people ignore Safe Haven options and instead take their child’s life. Safe Havens allow desperate and scared parents to do the right thing for both themselves and for their babies, safely and anonymously, giving both parent and child a chance at life.
To find out laws in your state, visit The National Safe Haven Alliance or call 1-888-510-BABY.
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