Boston Creates “Baby Safe Havens” for Children

 I just saw this article in the Boston Globe today about the creation of what is being called “Baby Safe Havens.”  The idea is to curb the number of abandoned newborns under 7 months by creating a safe house where mothers can relinquish their children.

These Baby Safe Havens reminds me of the Public Baby Cradles and Baby Boxes that countries such as Japan and India have created.  The only difference is that the PBCs and BBs do not necessarily have a baby age limit (correct me if I’m wrong).

Baby Safe Haven act to remain in force

DSS lauds impact on infants, parents

More unwanted newborns will survive and live with caring families across the state now that lawmakers have made permanent the Baby Safe Haven Law, Department of Social Services officials said yesterday.

Governor Deval Patrick signed the law last week to allow a safe alternative for mothers who might otherwise abandon their babies. The law, passed in 2004, had been set to expire next year.

“The Baby Safe Haven Law saves lives,” Angelo McClain, commissioner of the Department of Social Services, said in a statement. “By making this important piece of legislation permanent, Massachusetts offers parents a safe alternative and helps protect babies from abuse and neglect. DSS enthusiastically supports the law, and we are pleased to see it extended.”

The law allows a parent to surrender a newborn 7 days old or younger to a designated Baby Safe Haven, which includes any hospital, police station, or manned fire station, without the threat of a prison term. Six babies have been safely surrendered since the law’s inception, DSS officials said.

A surrendered child goes immediately into DSS custody and, after a medical screening, he or she is placed in a preadoptive home. DSS spokeswoman Denise Monteiro said preadoptive homes allow for the newborns to have the best chance of staying with one family, as opposed to placement in a foster home.

The law not only eases the surrendering of children, but offers information to expectant mothers. One of the most successful components of the program, Monteiro said, has been the Baby Safe Haven Hotline, which gives would-be parents information about the law, crisis intervention services, and referrals to teen pregnancy shelters.

“We have the services out there; we just need to connect the expecting mothers to the service,” Monteiro said.

Through the hotline, 35 mothers have developed a successful pregnancy plan with the staff, ensuring that those newborns were not abandoned, DSS officials said. The Baby Safe Haven Hotline can be reached 24 hours a day at 866-814-SAFE.

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7 Comments on “Boston Creates “Baby Safe Havens” for Children

  1. Funny how they don’t mention that these baby dumps do not change the number of babies being abandoned where these already operate!!

    One other thing – they have found toddlers up to 3 years old being abandoned in these horrible things! Imagine the trauma of being stuck in one of those things without even being able to trace the parent.

    What about genetic diseases?

    This just absolves the parents of everything – it is disgraceful!!

    And I am speaking as a reunited mother.

  2. It’s funny that there is this outside criticism of the most successful program in the country, based on no knowledge of what it is about.

    Prior to the law passing, in the 4 years the state heard all of the “dumping” rhetoric from opposition, there were 13 babies abandoned in Massachusetts. 6 of those babies died, most unknown, 4 barely survived and 3 were similar situations to the surrounding states safe haven laws.

    Out of 13 abandonments prior to the law passage 10 newborns were stripped of their heritage and medical backgrounds, 6 in death.

    Following the passage of the law, in the first 3 years, there has been 6 newborns safely surrnedered. All 6 Moms came back, or at the time of surrendering, and gave the medical histories of the babies. 4 later sigend full adoption contracts, the other 2 passed along familial histories later.

    So your assumption of the laws outcome is absolutely incorrect. Your rhetoric is what’s “disgraceful!”

  3. Sorry – but the stats from those places do not support your argument.

    Those women that you mention would have surrendered children anyway, regardless of the dump. The mindset of women who abandon babies is completely different from those who surrender their children.

    You have not mentioned the numbers of babies being abandoned after the passing of the law.

    – why?

    It is because it has remained static despite the baby dumps, that is why.

    It is not “rhetoric” – it is the truth.

    Look up “Abandoned Babies Boston” and you will STILL find stories of abandoned babies despite your law – such as the dead baby in the high school and another one somewhere else in Boston.

    Like I said, the new law obviously didn’t make one speck of difference to them, did it?

    The mothers that use the baby dump would not have abandoned their babies.

    The fact they came back shows that they care enough that it would not have entered their head to do so.

    May I also point out that Hawaii dumped its baby dumping law because they do not work.

    There has only been ONE case of abandonment there in the past 12 years.

    Why is it that a state without a baby dump has less abandoned (and dead) babies then a state with a baby dump?

    They don’t stigmatise mother and baby like Boston does, that’s why!

    That is one main factor you just don’t get!

  4. One other point – how do you know that the mothers that went back were not trying to get their children back?

    A number of women have come forward saying that when they used the baby dump, they were stressed, upset, not counselled, etc.

    They felt that they had made a big mistake in a moment of stress.

    When they tried to get their children back, NONE of them did.

    NONE OF THEM.

    At least in cases of adoption (in civilised places), mothers are giving a period of time so that they can withdraw their consent if they realise that their decision was made in a moment of severe stress, post-natal depression or a host of other reasons.

    I bet not one child has ever been returned to their often destressed mothers from any baby dump, even when the mothers begged for a second chance straight away.

    I have surfed the net – and have not found any mothers who succeeded in getting their babies back from any baby dump anywhere.

    That is an abuse of the rights of the mother at their most vulnerable.

    And don’t tell me that some women don’t try to get their babies back – of course they do.

    Their stories ARE on the net.

  5. Wrong, and use of improper rhetoric once again.

    The Brighton High School baby was a 22 week stillbirth, not a live abandoned baby.

    The Milford baby has been the only death since the Baby Safe Haven law went into effect. A baby was also abandoned in October 2003 in Boston and survived.

    Compare those stats against the pre-Baby Safe Haven law ones of in 4 years 13 abandoned, 6 dead, 4 near dead, 3 surrenders.

    You cliam some kind of abuse, but all 6 MA safe haven surrendering Moms had multiple contacts with a highly trained counselor on our hotline.

    If you hate these laws, get a state rep to file a bill to repeal them. We’ll be happy to debate your false statements with the verified facts from the state agencies with oversight on the laws.

  6. “May I also point out that Hawaii dumped its baby dumping law because they do not work.”

    Don’t know how we missed this one the first time around!

    Hawaii DID PASS their Baby Safe Haven law on July 10, 2007, it was retroactive to July 1, 2007.

    We witnessed the override vote of both houses of their legislature, and there have been many news stories, videos and blogs about this in the last two months.

    Guess you still can’t get your facts straight.

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