It looks like many states have decided to step up their efforts to recruit adoptable babies.
In my home state, advertisements for the Safe Haven Infant Protection Act have been airing on a popular pop/rock radio station for months. Now a flurry of posters promoting legalized abandonment are prominently displayed in at least three area shopping malls.
Does anyone really believe that so-called “Safe Havens” are beneficial to scared young mothers and their infants? I’m as much a sucker for babies as the next person, but allowing just anyone to anonymously deposit a newborn at a police station or hospital seems downright dangerous to me.
The offending posters proclaim, “No shame, no blame, no names,” and the accompanying radio ads tell mothers that if they are feeling hopeless and alone, they can count on Safe Haven to solve their problems. Perhaps the immediate issue – being a new mother with no support system – is resolved, but I find it hard to believe that these women are better off in the long run. Having spent years working with mothers who surrendered children for adoption, I know that being separated from one’s child takes its toll on a person. The same can be said for children taken from their parents in early infancy: it is a loss that should not be taken lightly.
Opening another can of worms, most Safe Haven laws in the United States make provisions for anyone to drop off an infant at a designated safe place. That means fathers (who want to shirk child-support), grandparents (who are embarrassed of their daughter’s unwed pregnancy) and other sociopaths can bring in a baby without the family’s consent. Sure, there is a grace period during which a parent can come forward to raise the baby, but only if he or she is brave enough to face an uphill custody battle with the state’s child protection office.
So who does stand to gain from the promotion of Safe Haven? No surprise here: politicians and state governments use this dangerous Act to secure federal funding and reelection. While politicians who advocate these laws garner support from a short-sighted public horrified by “dumpster babies” in the news, the state passes the newborns through the child protection system and into adoptive homes, earning between 4000-6000 federal dollars per infant in adoption bonuses. No wonder I’ve seen so many ads in New Jersey; last year this state received one of the top two highest adoption pay outs. The powers that be must be striving for #1 this year!
In all seriousness; there are ways to protect infants from abandonment while also helping their mothers cope with the challenges of parenting. Some promising proposals include an anonymous counseling center to help mothers with postpartum depression, financial aid and support services for low-income parents, a “safe house” program for pregnant teens who feel unable to disclose their pregnancies, and most importantly, easy access to contraception and abortion to keep unwanted pregnancies from resulting in unwanted children.
To quote the offensive advertisements, “There’s a safe haven.” But there shouldn’t be.