Despite the law’s 14 year existence, Dawn Geras continues to work tirelessly to remind scared and struggling parents that the state provides protection for them under what has colloquially become known as the Safe Haven Law. The measure, which was in enacted in 2001, permits parents to safely relinquish their newborn child at designated locations as an alternative to much more dangerous actions or neglect. Children who are relinquished under the law are provided any needed medical care and then quickly made available for adoption, often within just a few hours.
Geras is the founder of the Save Abandoned Babies Foundation, a Chicago based charity that was instrumental in drafting the original version of the law. With the help of other volunteers, she works to educate the public about the existence of the Safe Haven Law and how it can help parents. “We initially started out saying if we could save just one baby, it would be worth it,” she said. “Today, we’re over 100. How many classrooms is that now?”
The Abandoned Newborn Infant Protection Act provides that a parent may relinquish a newborn, up to 30 days old, at any hospital, fire station, emergency medical facility, or police station without fear of prosecution for abandonment. If there is no evidence of neglect or abuse, the relinquishing person is granted the right to remain anonymous, but personnel at the site must provide them with information related to their parental rights and available resources. They will also be encouraged to provide information for the Illinois Adoption Registry and Medical Information Exchange so that the child and his or her adoptive parents may have access to necessary information.