A little while ago, I started noticing some bold, simple signs that piqued my curiosity and prompted a visit to Google. The signs were white rectangles. On them were three royal-blue elements: a baby’s silhouette, two craddling hands, and the words – Safe Surrender Site. Often the signs were adorning non-descript buildings, but I also saw one on a fire station.
Obviously I could glean that the signs had something to do with giving up children, but exactly what was involved?
This Canadian has since learned that it is legal in many (50, actually) states for the birth mother or father or legal guardian to give up her/his child to a Safe Surrender Site, within a certain timeframe after the baby’s birth, without fear of prosecution for abandonment. No names and no medical history must be given. In California, the time period is 72 hours.
Since no Safe Haven law exists in Canada, the signs were understandably new to me. In fact, I discovered quite a few Web petitions to get a similar Canadian law passed. Many believe such a law would help stop newborn abandonment and murder.
Most participating states passed the Safe Haven law only in 2000. I wonder if those states have seen a decline in crimes against newborns?
Data aside, my heart goes out to someone who feels compelled to hand her/his baby over. I can only imagine the gamut of emotions involved, and how desperate and scared those parents and guardians must be.