In a perfect world, the birth of a child would always be a joyous occasion. New parents would happily share the news with everyone they could as they welcomed the new addition to their family. However, in the real world, many expectant mothers find themselves alone, scared, and totally unprepared for raising a child. This is why in 2001, Illinois passed the Abandoned Newborn Infant Protection Act and through its provisions, over 100 at-risk children have since been adopted into loving homes.
Commonly known as a safe haven law, the Act identifies a number of facilities at which an individual may “relinquish” a newborn infant without the risk of legal repercussions for abandonment. Hospitals, police stations, fire stations, and emergency medical facilities are required by the law to accept and properly care for a relinquished baby. Facilities other than hospitals must ensure the infant is brought to a hospital until a placement agency or other adoption authority can make suitable arrangements.
To be considered under the safe haven law, the child cannot be older than 30 days old. Relinquishing an infant in accordance with the law cannot be considered abuse or neglect. However, if the personnel accepting the child suspect abuse or neglect based on reasons other than relinquishment, mandating reporting requirements still apply and a subsequent investigation is possible.
The decision to give up an infant is an incredibly difficult one, but providing this option to desperate parents is a point of pride for the Save Abandoned Babies Foundation. The Illinois non-profit organization was instrumental in getting the law passed 13 years ago and in December of 2014 celebrated the 100th adoption as a result of legal relinquishment. Acknowledging the struggles that unprepared parents can face, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan noted, “There are 100 opportunities for a life that otherwise might not have been.”
Many children left at safe haven facilities are placed with adoptive families very quickly. Some do not even need to enter the foster care system and same-day placement is very possible. Adoptive families are appreciative of the opportunity to care for child who so desperately needs them but are also quick to recognize the courage of the parents who made the difficult decision to give up their child.
If you live in Illinois and have questions about safe haven adoptions or adoptions of any other type, our office can help. Contact an experienced DuPage County family law attorney today. We can assist you in understanding the law, your rights, those of the child and any other interested party.