An infant was safely handed over today to an employee at a Baton Rouge-area fire station under the state’s Safe Haven law after the child’s mother said she was no longer able to care for the child.
“This mother made a very difficult decision today and I commend her for it,” said DCFS Secretary Marketa Garner Walters. “Instead of abandoning her baby, she placed the child in the arms of someone who will ensure his safety. This underscores the importance of Louisiana’s Safe Haven law. It saves lives.”
Fire department personnel transported the baby to Woman’s Hospital, where it was examined and found to be in good health. DCFS will place the child with a foster family and eventually a loving adoptive home.
The Louisiana Legislature passed the Safe Haven law in 2000, after a series of high-profile infant abandonment cases across the country. The law amends the Children’s Code to provide for the Safe Haven relinquishment of newborns. That Code again was amended in 2003 and most recently in the 2013 legislative session. There is Safe Haven legislation advancing in the Legislature this session.
Louisiana’s Safe Haven law allows children up to the age of 60 days to be relinquished to an employee at a designated emergency care facility. These include any licensed hospital, public health unit, emergency medical service provider, medical clinic, fire or police station, pregnancy crisis center or child advocacy center.
Since 2004, 44 infants have been relinquished in Louisiana using the Safe Haven law, most recently an infant in the Covington area last October.
After the child is relinquished, he or she is provided a medical examination. The relinquishing parent is provided a card with a toll-free phone number (1-800-CHILDREN or 1-800-244-5373) to call and receive information about parental rights and provide anonymous information about the infant’s medical and genetic history, if desired.
DCFS recommends parents who want to relinquish their newborns take the following steps:
1. Locate the nearest emergency care facility (i.e. hospital, public health unit, any EMS unit, medical clinic, fire or police station, pregnancy crisis center or child advocacy center)
2. Locate an employee with the facility, hand your child to them and state that you want to utilize Louisiana’s Safe Haven law.
Louisiana’s Safe Haven law is a safe, legal alternative to abandonment of newborns up to 60 days old. Parents who would like to give up custody of their child, but whose child is not in immediate danger of harm, are encouraged to use a planned, permanent adoption through an adoption agency that accounts for medical and genetic history.