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.