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Group Works to Educate about Safe Haven Law

 Posted on December 00, 0000 in Children

Adoption in Illinois, Lombard Family Law Attorney, Safe Haven LawIt is easy to understand how an expectant mother may feel overwhelmed by her circumstances. Social, family, and financial pressures as well as internal insecurities can all certainly contribute to her feeling that she may be unprepared and unable to properly care for a child. Since 2001, more than 70 infants have been illegally abandoned in Illinois, many presumably by mothers struggling to deal with the challenges of raising a baby. However, in the same time period more than 100 infants have been legally relinquished at designated Illinois locations, allowing them the opportunity to be placed with foster families or couples seeking adoption.

The Abandoned Newborn Infant Protection Act was enacted in 2001 to provide a safe and legal alternative for parents who may feel they have no other options. Commonly known as a Safe Haven Law, the legislation identifies hospitals, emergency facilities, police stations, and staffed fire stations as "safe havens" at which an infant under 30 days old may be relinquished without the threat of abandonment charges. The relinquishing parents are encouraged but not required to provide medical and family information, or they may choose to do so at a later time or by mail in order to maintain a level of anonymity. The baby is then taken to an appropriate medical facility for an exam and any needed care, and, in most cases, placed with or adopted by a loving family almost immediately.

Although the Safe Haven Law has been in place for more than 13 years, many residents seem to be unaware of its existence. Dawn Geras, creator of the Chicago-based Save Abandoned Babies Foundation, was instrumental in the creation of the law and remains active in her efforts to educate the general public. In addition to notification signs at legally designated safe haven buildings, the organization offers posters, brochures, and school based educational materials so that those most likely to need the protection offered by the law have the information they need.

More than half of the babies illegally abandoned in Illinois since 2001 did not survive and Geras takes each one personally. "There is one person we haven’t reached yet," she said. "There are not many opportunities in life to make a life or death difference. This is one of them." Thanks largely to the efforts of volunteers like Geras, the movement is gaining momentum nationwide and according to the National Safe Haven Alliance, all 50 states have enacted safe-haven legislation saving well over 1000 infants.

Once a baby has been relinquished under the Illinois Safe Haven Law, he or she can become eligible for adoption through adoption agencies or the Department of Children and Family Services. For the families who have opened their home to a child in need, completing the adoption process can be made much easier with the help of a qualified lawyer. If you are considering expanding your family by adoption, contact an experienced family law attorney in Lombard today for a consultation.

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