MERIDEN -- It is a law designed to save two lives: The mother and her baby. The Safe Haven law was passed in 2000 to give at risk mothers a place to turn if they can't care for their newborn.
On Monday, at hospitals around the state, doctors, clinicians, and law makers made it a point to recognize the first ever Safe Haven Awareness Day. A large group gathered at Midstate Medical Center in Meriden to discuss the virtues of a program they say has saved lives and will continue to do so.
"We are talking about girls who feel they have no hope," said Rep. Catherine Abercrombie, who represents Meriden and Berlin. "This gives them hope, this gives them a place to bring their babies without fear of prosecution and its a safe environment for them."
No blame, no shame, and no names is the slogan that the medical professionals stress should a mother need to leave her baby in their care. A newborn must be 30 days old or less to be part of the Safe Haven Program.
After a baby is left in the care of the hospital, DCF is called and then begins the process of finding a certified adoptive family.
"We've had more than two dozen babies brought to Safe Haven, since the law was passed 16 years ago," noted Kate Sims, Regional Director of Women and Infant services for Hartford Healthcare. "We can help provide the baby with another family," she said.
Here is how the Safe Haven Act works:
- The law enables a parent to bring an infant 30 days or younger to a hospital emergency room and avoid prosecution for abandonment.
- A nurse will ask the parent for their name and for medical information on the infant and parent. The parent does not have to provide that information.
- DCF will obtain custody and place the baby with a family who is already licensed and intends to adopt the baby.
- Safe Haven babies are placed into homes with families that adopt the child. In one instance, a Safe Haven baby was placed into a permanent home of a relative
- The Department will provide support to the baby’s new family while terminating the biological parent’s parental rights so that the adoption can become final.
- Connecticut law requires that a child can only be placed by the Department with a person licensed to provide foster or adoptive care.