The Utah Newborn Safe Haven Law turns 15 this year, having saved more than 40 children with its allowance for a parent to drop off a newborn at any 24 hour hospital in Utah anonymously.
Since 2001, all 50 states have adopted some form of this law to address abandonment of children. In Utah, hospitals are designated as a safe place for newborns to be dropped off. After the infant is checked by medical personnel, the Utah Division of Child and Family Services (DCFS) assumes legal custody and places the infant with a foster family while a permanent adoptive family is found.
The 15-year anniversary of the law finds many children placed in welcoming homes with families who are grateful for the law’s existence and its use by birth parents. To date it is estimated that more than 40 children have been placed, with many more parents in crisis served by the 24-hour hotline. That’s more than the size of most kindergarten classes in Utah. These children have the opportunity to live happy, healthy lives.
One mother, speaking at a press event this morning, said "I’ve thought a lot about what I would want to know if our roles had been reversed, and as a mother, the first thing I would tell Sam’s birth mom, or anyone else who finds themselves in this situation, is: IT WORKED!! IT REALLY WORKED!! HE IS SAFE! HE IS HAPPY! HE IS HEALTHY! HE IS LOVED! HE KNOWS ABOUT WHAT YOU DID FOR HIM. HE LOVES YOU!
Because of your decision, Sam has a wonderful life! He is happy and kind and he is fun! We think he has your freckles and he definitely didn’t get his height or his co-ordination from me. Sam has always loved to be active. Right now, he loves football, lacrosse, snow skiing and wakeboarding. He is good at anything athletic that he tries to do and we think that is because of your great genes. We have tried to give him every opportunity to explore those talents and enjoy this gift from you."
Another family, touched by the law, said "The baby we adopted is growing up, but I will never forget that first time I walked in, looked at this child, and immediately felt love. However, I know that someone else loved my adopted child before I loved them. I have respect for the birth mother of my child, a woman who gave my wife and I the greatest gift possible. I respect the leaders in our state legislature who 15 years ago recognized the need for this law – a law that has saved many lives over the years – lives that matter. I am grateful for the gift of the child I call my own through the wisdom of this law, the child I kiss goodnight each evening before they go to sleep in a safe home – which is exactly what the birth mother wanted."
We would like to thank everyone who has been involved in the success of the Newborn Safe Haven Law, from birth mothers to program directors, adoptive parents and legislators, and everyone in between.
For more information on the law and other resources, visit the Utah Newborn Safe Haven website.