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Advocates stress importance and awareness of Safe Haven Laws

HARTFORD – Connecticut State Police continue to investigate the circumstances surrounding an infant boy’s death in Harwinton. His body was found in a bag in Bristol Reservoir #4 on Tuesday.

Although it’s not yet known how or when the child died, this case is serving as a reminder that Connecticut has a Safe Haven law.

It went into effect in 2000 giving mothers the safe and legal option to give up their infants with no question asked as long as it’s within 30 days of birth.

Under the law, a parent can bring the infant to the nursing staff at any emergency room in the state. Nurses may ask for the child’s medical history and personal information, but the parent is not required to answer any questions at all.

“The goals are going to be to find out any medical care for the child and any medical care for the mother and things like that, but she does not have to give her name. She doesn’t have to give any information,” explained Kelly Pabilonia, a social worker in Hartford Hospital’s emergency department.

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.

According to DCF, there have been 27 safe haven success stories since the law went into effect. There were three safe haven cases last year. So far in 2017, there haven’t been any.

The goal is to save the infant’s life and the mother’s.

Pabilonia said, “I truly believe that this is a selfless act and I believe that the alternative is you know horrible.  We can find a safe home for your baby and we will not judge you and we will help you find a safe place for them.”

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.
  • 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.

The below chart does not reflect all 27 Safe Haven babies, however recent instances when the Safe Haven Act was invoked include:

2016

  • January 9 Saint Francis Hospital
  • January 9 Bradley Memorial Hospital
  • February 22 Middlesex Shoreline Medical Center

2014

  • January 1 Midstate Medical Cente
  • February 3 Day Kimball Hospital
  • July 21 Midstate Medical Center
  • September 13 Saint Francis Hospital

2013

  • January 1 Charlotte Hungerford Hospital
  • March 7 Lawrence and Memorial

2012

  • January 9 Midstate Medical Center
  • April 19 Hartford Hospital

2011

  • March 4 Stamford Hospital
  • June 18 Yale New Haven Hospital
  • October 28 Connecticut Children's Medical Center

2010

  • September 29 Norwalk Hospital

2009

  • March 13 Connecticut Children's Medical Center
  • March 23 Middlesex Hospital

2008

  • April 19 Danbury Hospital
  • August 21 Hartford Hospital

2007

  • December 25 Saint Francis Hospital

2006

  • February 27 Bridgeport Hospital

Despite the successes of the law, there have been babies abandoned since the law took effect in 2000:

  • One baby was abandoned in Branford in July of 2004.  Two babies were abandoned in 2001 in Greenwich and Brookfield. Another baby was abandoned in Groton on August 30, 2006.
  • Of these four, two have been adopted, including the Branford baby, and two live with relatives.
  • In August 2014, a baby was found in the trash outside an East Hartford home. Police arrested the mother in October 2014 and plead guilty in the baby's death.
  • In Danbury, a teenager was arrested in January 2007 and convicted in the death of a newborn baby.Her sentence was commuted in 2016.

Note about placement of a Safe Haven Baby:

  • Connecticut law requires that a child can only be placed by the Department with a person licensed to provide foster or adoptive care.

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