The Safe Haven law allows for anonymous surrender of a newborn up to 7 days old. These laws were conceived to prevent the abandonment, or worse, of infants by desperate parents. Once these newborns are in state foster care, it can take up to 12 months in an anonymous surrender before the infants are permanently adopted, as opposed to voluntary adoption where an infant can be in a permanent home within days. If a mother surrenders her newborn under Safe Haven, she will have three days (varies by jurisdiction) to revoke this surrender. If she signs a Voluntary Consent to Adoption, she has 15 days in Washington, DC, 10 days in Virginia, and 30 days in Maryland to revoke her consent.
DISADVANTAGES OF CHOOSING SAFE HAVEN
1. A biological mother utilizing Safe Haven may not be getting the critical counseling she needs to help her process her relinquishment.
2. A biological mother using Safe Haven may not be notifying the father of the baby of his rights and responsibilities.
3. A biological mother using Safe Haven will not have the options a voluntary adoption will give her such as choosing a family or the level of contact she may want with her child over the years. She may not be able to provide important medical updates to her child’s adoptive family, or be available throughout the years to assist with medical questions.
4. A biological mother using Safe Haven will not be providing comprehensive and ongoing genetic history, social history, anecdotal or generational details to her child. The child will literally be starting with a “blank slate”.
5. A biological mother using Safe Haven may be depriving her child of the right to grow up in his or her biological family, since other relatives may step forward to raise the child. This is often the case with our clients who consider adoption.
6. A biological mother using Safe Haven will not get the counseling, support and resource assistance she needs if she ultimately decides to parent her child, as is the case with the vast majority of women who consider adoption.
BENEFITS OF ADOPTION VERSUS SAFE HAVEN
1. A child will always know her birth mother made a plan for her, and did not simply abandon her.
2. A child has her background information available, and medical updates throughout her life. This can be life saving for children whose biological relatives develop life threatening genetically-based issues and need their children tested. (As a repository of that information, adoption agencies are routinely contacted by both birth and adoptive families for ongoing medical and psychological information exchange.)
3. A child can have contact with her biological family, and the benefit of knowing both of her families and their mutually developing a respectful relationship on her behalf.
4. A mother who is suffering post-partum depression or other mental health challenges can receive referrals to counseling and other resources that may help her.
5. Agency social workers and counselors are available indefinitely to help mothers cope with their adoption decision which can have lifelong implications.
We want to hear your thoughts. What is your position on Safe Haven laws?