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Illinois' Safe Haven Laws

Posted on in Child Custody

safe haven lawsMany people across the country take advantage of the adoption process to fulfill their dreams of having a family or to complete their family. Families in Illinois are certainly no exception. In light of this, there are a number of laws in place in the state regarding not only the adoption process, but also laws relevant to related situations and occurrences. Some of these laws may be well known, while others seemingly are not.

Safe Haven Law

According to a recent news article, events that have unfolded in Illinois over the last couple of weeks have alerted officials to problems with the state’s safe haven law. Mainly, the issue is that not enough people are aware of it. This became evident, in part, by the apparent abandonment over Labor Day Weekend of a newborn in a dumpster in Jacksonville.

Illinois’ safe haven law provides that a parent may anonymously leave an unwanted newborn in the care of a doctor, nurse, firefighter, police officer, or other designated party safely and without fear of repercussion. The law defines a "newborn" as being a child who a licensed physician reasonably believes is 30 days old or less at the time the child is initially relinquished. The problem is that people do not hear about the law enough. This may be partly because the act of abandoning a newborn is not common, and also because the law is effective in keeping the matter anonymous according to the conditions of the law itself, so people are unlikely to hear about such cases on the news or through media outlets. The law has been invoked at least 98 times since it was implemented in 2001, according to what representatives from the Save Abandoned Babies Foundation said to reporters in wake of the recent case.

However, the abandonment of the newborn in Jacksonville presents the stark reality that some people are not aware of all of the options in a desperate or hopeless situation. What compounds matters in this case is that the baby was discovered about a block from a police station where the infant could have been safely left according to the terms of the safe haven law. Instead, police are now searching for the person responsible for the abandonment, and criminal charges will surely follow along with a likely delayed adoption process, all of which could have been easily avoided.

The benefits of the state’s safe haven law are far reaching and affect every party involved, from the child to the birth parents and the adopting family. If a baby is given up according to the terms of the safe haven law, a presumption of permission from the birth parent arises and allows the baby to be immediately placed for adoption, often being placed with a family in less than a day. Babies who are abandoned, on the other hand, may be lost in the system for as long as it takes officials to sort out the situation and locate the appropriate parties.

A parent considering relinquishment of their newborn baby should know that if they do so in accordance with the Safe Haven Law, and decide to return to reclaim the child within 72 hours, the facility personnel must inform that parent of the name and location of the hospital to which the infant was transported. Additionally, the parent of a newborn infant relinquished in accordance with the law, may petition for the return of custody of the infant at any point prior to the termination of their parental rights with respect to the infant. In cases involving such circumstances, the assistance of a knowledgeable attorney is highly recommended.

Adoption Attorney

If you are considering adoption, the experienced DuPage County family law attorneys at the Davi Law Group, LLC can help you get on the right track to achieving your goals. Contact us today to schedule a consultation to discuss your case. We have successful experience representing clients in DuPage, Will, Kane, Kendall and Cook County.
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