The Abandoned Baby Act was designed to save the lives of newborns. Parents could, for whatever reason, leave their newborn baby at a hospital, police station or a fire station, so long as the baby was not harmed in any way. The parent can choose to leave medical information about the baby, or not. There are no questions nor prosecution for leaving the child in the appropriate place. A church is not a place where the parent can voluntarily relinquish their child.
Under the Act, a baby must be unharmed, under 72 hours old, and left either at a hospital, emergency medical facility or a fire station. The Act was recently changed to provide that the police station is a recognized place of relinquishment. The rationale for allowing the parent to “abandon” the baby at these locations, is to ensure that the infant receives the necessary medical treatment. Hopefully the ability to relinquish the baby will encourage parents to take that avenue instead of hurting the baby or simply trying to leave the child in a place where the baby could be seriously injured or killed.
The law is stringent about the drop off locations and to ensure that the parent is not prosecuted, the parent has to make sure they drop the baby at an approved location. A parent recently dropped twins off near Christmas in a church, and they were appropriately named Baby Jesus and Baby Mary. It was great to hear that the babies were unharmed and healthy, but this parent still had not received the correct information. What if the church had not opened that day and the babies had stayed there over the weekend without food and water? If only the parent had dropped the babies off at the appropriate place, there would be no abandonment charges levied against the parent and the babies could now be in the process of being adopted. Instead, they are in foster care, and they will stay in limbo until the parent’s and father’s parental rights have been terminated.
It is imperative that everyone spread the word on this Act. Parents have to realize that they have options and that there will be no questions asked. There is no downside for the voluntary relinquishment and it could very well save a baby’s life.