Protecting unwanted babies - Katrina Legarda

Posted at 01/21/2009 1:53 AM | Updated as of 01/21/2009 1:56 AM

This week, I thought you might be interested in a problem that we see almost everyday and reported in the news.

Everyday, single mothers, or women who just cannot care for one more child, abandon their babies. Some even throw their babies outside of taxi windows or from the top floors of buildings.

I can only imagine the state of mind of a parent who abandons her baby, I do not want to judge. 

I believe there should be a law in this country to allow these parents to safely give up their children. We need this law to protect the child.
 
In the United States, there is now a law, "Safe Surrender," that allows the parent(s) to surrender a baby to a safe haven location should they not want to keep the child - no questions asked.  This was put in place to keep parents from abandoning their newborn in the nearest dumpster.

The website I checked out explained that The Safely Surrendered Baby Law (also known as the Safe Haven Law) allows a parent or person with lawful custody to surrender a baby confidentially to a designated Safe Surrender Site, without fear of arrest or prosecution for child abandonment.

The law states that “no parent or other person who has lawful custody of a minor child 72 hours old or younger may be prosecuted for child abandonment if he or she voluntarily surrenders physical custody of the child to an employee at a public or private emergency room.”  As long as the baby has not been abused or neglected, parents may give up their newborn without fear of arrest or prosecution.  

Safe Surrender Sites are generally hospitals, but the US law also allows surrender of babies to other public agencies.

The US law provides that a parent who safely surrenders a baby does not have to give her name. If a parent chooses to give her name or other identifying information, only individuals who need to know the identity and whereabouts of a surrendering parent will have access to such information, thus guaranteeing confidentiality. Such individuals may include the judge and the attorneys in court who ensure that the baby is safe and placed in a pre-adoptive home.  

The parent will be asked to fill out a questionnaire designed to gather important medical history information, which is very useful in caring for the baby. Although filling out the questionnaire is not required, it is encouraged.

If the parent wants to reclaim the baby, she has a stated number of days to do so. A social worker will meet with the parent and assess his or her home to determine whether the baby can be safely returned to the parent.  If the prescribed number of days has elapsed, the parent may have to attend court hearings in addition to meeting with social workers and having his or her home assessed.  

If the baby is not reclaimed, the baby is placed in a home and pre-adoption proceedings begin.

In the United States, actors and actresses have made adoption the ‘in’ thing to do. Here, we need to encourage more adoptions. You cannot imagine how many children are desperate for good, loving homes.

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From the mailbag: “Mercy” wrote that her English husband suddenly died in London soon after their baby was born. “Mercy” is still in the Philippines and needs advice on how to get a pension to support herself and her daughter.

“Mercy,” I notice that you live in Cebu. The British have a consulate there, and it is headed by Mrs. Moya Jackson. Please could you look for her so she can help you? Perhaps you can call the British Embassy in Manila (their number should be easy to locate in any travel agency or the Yellow Pages). You will need information as to whether you are in fact entitled to any benefits from the British government. I do not know the laws of the United Kingdom.

Please ensure that your marriage certificate and the birth certificate of your daughter are authenticated copies from the National Census Office.
 
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