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Safe Haven…

07 May

By TAO

I’m not against the intention behind creating Safe Haven laws.  Really, I’m not.  It’s the belief that mothers would only use them if they can remain anonymous, that I disagree with.

My argument: People who use Safe Haven laws would be better served with public education that they can surrender their baby to the government, without being charged with abandonment.  That charge of abandonment is what they are trying to avoid.  If people know they can go to any designated place and give up the custody and control of their baby in a safe way – I highly doubt any, or most, would require anonymity.  They just can’t deal with being parents, and everyone knows you can’t abandon your child, or you go to jail – hence the trash bins so they don’t get caught.

Why am I talking about this today?  I had the following argument/discussion last night with my husband – we were watching the news and a segment on Safe Haven laws came on – just as I was getting up to head off to bed.  Terrible timing.  I was exhausted, and my buttons got pushed by the focus on anonymity – the assumption that would be required by those who used them.  I raised my voice which I don’t do, and as per usual – the stress brought my speech deficit to the forefront.  It’s hard to argue when you have no words.  I won’t detail the full argument – just the ending.

Hubby was by this time yelling as well, saying: Well if it saves a life it’s worth it, and why can’t they be anonymous.  What difference does that make?

See, that is also the thought process of those who make, or support, the way the laws are written.  What difference does it make if they are anonymous – the life is saved.

That is when I regained my words enough to get a cohesive statement out:  I’m a prime example of the difference it makes when your family is anonymous (because that is what closed records creates). 

He knows exactly why having access too, and knowing your family health history, can make all the difference in how, and what quality of life is, to that saved life.  He sees me every day struggle to get through my daily chores, that others would do without breaking a sweat.  He monitors the amount of time I spend in the garden, and knows when I have to come inside, if I want to do anything the rest of the week.  He does the same when I work inside, because, I don’t see the cliff coming until it is too late.  He knows it is likely that I won’t live a normal lifespan, or ever return to the life I had, because I didn’t know my family health history when I needed it most, that for some, perhaps many, makes all the difference in the world.

I didn’t go into the need to know where you come from – because people who know where they come from have never lived without knowing, so the understanding of the need is muted at best.  I didn’t go there because I had already won the argument by pointing out what my (our) reality is now.

He didn’t know that you can surrender your baby to the government, yet he knows I was surrendered to the government – for adoption.  That is how many of the adoptees from my era became adoptees.  Mothers gave birth and then called up the county social worker and arranged to surrender their babies while still in the hospital, going through an adoption agency was not required.  Hubby never put two and two together, he thought that the Safe Haven laws were put in place to do that.

My biggest bitch with Safe Haven Laws: I don’t believe they did any research to find out if being anonymous was necessary, or even wanted, rather it was just assumed that would be required.  People still believe the myth that mothers want privacy, anonymity, to just disappear – I believe that is indeed rare.  I believe the simple answer is that people in crisis, or just can’t deal with parenting, don’t know you can surrender your baby without being charged with abandonment and going to jail.  They think you have to decide and organise an adoption before birth.  I think all governments have done a poor job of educating the public that there are other options, and that adoption is also part of government, and available, and Safe Haven Laws were put in place as a result of that lack of education, not because the only reason they are used is because of the desire for anonymity.

What do you think?  Is it lack of education, or do they really want anonymity…please be polite.

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12 Comments

Posted by on May 7, 2013 in Adoption, adoptive parents, biological child

 

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12 responses to “Safe Haven…

  1. Don't We Look Alike?

    May 7, 2013 at 5:33 pm

    I think that the myth is that there is a large segment of birth mothers who want anonymity, as if it naturally goes with the territory. I do believe there are some who do want anonymity. Nothing is ever all or nothing. But much of the anonymous talk today is a myth carried forward from earlier decades. It probably will not help you, but we are nearing the time when it will be impossible to keep these kinds of secrets any longer. With DNA testing available to anyone who can pay the $99 and as the data base gets larger and larger, and with social media and all the other ways our world is becoming smaller and smaller, all of this will eventually cease to matter.

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    • TAO

      May 7, 2013 at 5:50 pm

      You’re right – I don’t disagree that eventually just a dna test will allow you to find your family, it does now for some and eventually they will identify the majority of gene(s) that cause disease, but how it transmits in your family is key that the gene(s) can tell them.

      I do believe it is a tiny minority that would require anonymity from their child. You don’t want contact – say no – if it is a problem – file a restraining order. They may wish confidentiality from the public and I think people confuse the two topics – frequently.

      I just got so upset last night. The focus of the segment was on anonymity – not on if you use this Safe Haven law you won’t be charged with abandonment and go to jail. The myth is alive and well, sadly, and this from an open records government. Makes no sense. And I got upset that hubby could not automatically see the reason I was upset – of anyone he should know better…

      Thanks for weighing in…

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      • Don't We Look Alike?

        May 7, 2013 at 6:16 pm

        I can certainly understand why you would be upset! Was it the government alone that equated Safe Harbor with anonymity or was it the journalist also?

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        • TAO

          May 7, 2013 at 6:21 pm

          Most likely the journalist, but yet I have never seen an advert, or segment that didn’t primarily focus on anonymity. Interested to see if there are adverts/segments that focus on not being charged vs anonymity.

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  2. Dannie

    May 7, 2013 at 9:49 pm

    I could see it being beneficial for scared out of their minds moms who are in deep crisis (e.g. domestic violence) wanting to give child up for something better in their minds. The thing is, even in CA they have to advertise for potential fathers and there is a waiting time before so even that might not be so anonymous as it “seems”.

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    • TAO

      May 7, 2013 at 11:02 pm

      Dannie – you’re right they do have things in place. Have you ever seen the mismash of laws across the state? Some states check putative father registries, some check missing person databases, some don’t even seem to do either. Some give a matching bracelet if you want to come back, others allow non-parents to drop off. Just a mess.

      Tell me that a mother would not leave her name for her child though for when they are adults…confidential now to the public and family but not to her child. I can’t see a mother not willing to do that little – not wanting that would require no maternal instincts at all.

      How’s the insomnia?

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      • Dannie

        May 9, 2013 at 8:54 pm

        I believe here they give you a number….a matching number with the infant. I know the majority of mothers that use the safe haven laws actually give birth in the hospital, haven’t made up their minds or then realize it’s what they want to do….then they give out info….so at least the majority of socal safe haven babies have information. I don’t know the statistics of mothers that go to that quiet intimate place around a hospital and open the door and put a baby there….it’s weird, a co-worker and I decided to see what it looked like when you open the door to the safe haven drop off place….it’s like a conveyor belt….a little freaky if you ask me. (of course you can also leave a child at a fire station too so I’m sure they don’t have a door with a conveyor belt) But I’m pretty sure that most safe haven babies have information just because of the way the majority come in through. Remember on the forums TGmom was a safe haven mom….she was just going to leave but a nurse kindly asked if she would leave information for medical purposes and such and that triggered TGmom to leave everything she could and then choose the adoptive home for her daughter.

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        • TAO

          May 10, 2013 at 2:27 pm

          That’s the thing Dannie – the hospital has always been the place you could – then just suck it up and do it right. No need for the anonymous stuff.

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      • Dannie

        May 9, 2013 at 8:55 pm

        oh and Insomnia is better….some nights not so much, but am sleeping better….I’m just a tummy sleeper and this week was the week that my preggo body said “no”….I heard/read it’s pretty obvious to you by week 11/12/13 that you have to sleep on side from now on.

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        • TAO

          May 10, 2013 at 2:29 pm

          Yep – no sleeping on your tummy for sure. On your side – put a pillow between your knees or your lower back will really hurt if you aren’t used to it…just wait until you have no option other than sleeping on your back…

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  3. eagoodlife

    May 7, 2013 at 10:20 pm

    In my country child abandonment is very rare and usually done by a woman in deep crisis who does not understand our laws because she is not a citizen. When it does happen the child becomes anonymous with no identity, name etc. That is my main objection to safe haven laws, the anonymity of the child which will follow that person all their lives. It is cruel, inhumane and thoughtless to give that legacy to a child.I feel deeply for those adoptees who do not have their records and who suffer because of it.A cruel twist of the knife in my view.

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    • TAO

      May 7, 2013 at 11:05 pm

      It’s the anonmity for me for sure Von. Perhaps if that is the segment of women who do that then why not try to put educational material in areas they may see it? Here we have governmental flyers/brochures translated into multiple languages. I get they may still not want to go to a government office if they aren’t citizens but if they could leave a note with some type of info…just breaks my heart.

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