Infant abandonment is far too common in this country. Over 40 babies were illegally abandoned in the U.S. in 2019. According to unofficial statistics recorded by the National Safe Haven Alliance (NSHA), half of these infants did not survive.
Pregnancy care centers are positioned to work with women and parents in crisis pregnancy circumstances, offering comprehensive resources for parenting and even adoption. Safe Baby Haven resources are another safe alternative for parents who may be unwilling or unable to care for their infants. Safe Baby Haven is a last resort but may be a lifesaving option.
First, what is Safe Baby Haven? Safe Haven laws exist in every state, these laws allow a mother or parent to anonymously surrender an unharmed infant to a designated Safe Baby Haven provider. Hospitals and hospital staff in the United States are designated providers in every state. Other locations may include fire stations, police stations, pregnancy resource centers, and churches. The exact locations and age limitations for surrendered babies depend upon specific state laws.
There is often one opportunity to reach a pregnant woman in crisis. By offering clients all safe alternatives upon their visit to a PCC―including providing a Safe Baby Haven brochure in their take-home packet―parents will be empowered to make educated decisions regarding their pregnancies.
This education saves lives
A young woman called the NSHA hotline, explaining that she’d recently been homeless and had been assaulted during that time. At the time of the call, she’d just left a pregnancy care center where she learned she was eight months pregnant. She asked the crisis responder if Safe Baby Haven was truly an option for her.
She had intended to have a late term abortion, but because of the information she’d received about Safe Haven from the PCC, she chose to call the hotline and her baby’s life was saved. She surrendered her infant using the Safe Baby Haven option. The PCC supported her for the duration of her pregnancy and even continued to provide support after she safely surrendered her baby.
National Safe Haven Alliance operates a 24/7 hotline for parents in crisis and for providers who need assistance. A three-part communication model is utilized by the response team, which includes parenting and temporary placement, adoption options, and Safe Baby Haven. The NSHA crisis response team will never abandon a mother and leave her without options. Whether a parent feels unable to care for a newly born or older child, our staff will work to provide safe options for the parent and child.
The partnership with PCCs works both ways
One mother called the NSHA hotline requesting Safe Baby Haven direction and information. She was soon to deliver her baby and felt frustrated and lost. Having hastily and secretively left an abusive relationship, she had moved across the country to protect herself and her children. Soon after, she discovered she was pregnant.
As the mother shared her story, she said, “I love my baby, but I can’t afford daycare and care for my older children.” The NSHA crisis response team member realized this was an opportunity to offer support and resources aside from Safe Baby Haven in order to help this mother make an educated decision.
When the option of parenting was discussed, the NSHA staff member offered to connect her to local support and resources. The mother expressed interest in receiving this information. Over the next few days, she was connected to a local PCC and other resources in her area. She soon decided that, with the help she’d receive from her new support network, she could keep her baby. NSHA worked with partners in her area to provide a crib, car seat, baby items, gift cards, diapers and much more.
These partnerships are vital to how we approach parental support. Resources are available and, by connecting to these resources, parents may see the love, care, and kindness in this connection. The National Safe Haven Alliance offers training for pregnancy care centers. As we create more partnerships nationwide, more lives will be impacted. The goal is to provide the holistic support and care for parents and babies, bringing an end to infant abandonment.
Your center can learn more about the National Safe Haven Alliance, its training and available materials by going online to nationalsafehavenalliance.org or calling 1-888-510-BABY (2229).
Heather Burner is the Executive Director for the National Safe Haven Alliance. "Our non-profit organization is committed to the prevention of infant abandonment and infanticide through education, advocacy and direct support for parents in crisis situations. NSHA supports state Safe Haven organizations that are in alignment with our mission and values, provides model practice and established process according to the Safe Haven law that exists in every state in our country. This law allows mothers/parents to anonymously surrender their unharmed infant to a Safe Haven provider within stated period of time. Our hotline receives 20-50 calls per month and we are able to connect these parents to available resources in their communities. We would love to know more about your organization and become a resource for you as well."