Safe Delivery law worthy of awareness

Hopefully, the days of having to leave an infant in a basket on a strangers doorstep are over.

Today, two law training sessions at Messiah Lutheran Church will focus on Michigan’s Safe Delivery Program. They were scheduled for 10 a.m. to noon and 2 to 4 p.m.

The Safe Delivery of Newborns law, which took effect Jan. 1, 2001, allows complete anonymous surrender of a newborn from birth to 72 hours of age to an emergency service provider.

A clause was added in 2007, which stated a parent could surrender an infant to an emergency service provider after calling 911. That includes a fire department or police station.

A surrendered infant is transported to a hospital where a physician examines the baby to determine age and possible signs of neglect. Child Protective Services will investigate if such signs are found, but otherwise, agencies then place the infant with an adoptive family.

Regarding the surrendering of parental rights, parents have 28 days after giving up the newborn to petition the court to regain custody. After that time period, there will be a hearing for the termination of parental rights. Also, a notice of the hearing won’t reveal the parents’ names.

A traditional adoption, of course, is ideal, but often circumstances aren’t ideal. Many parents aren’t equipped, emotionally or financially, to take care of an infant.

Because of that unfortunate act, the program was created to reassure parents that other options exist when they face an unplanned pregnancy.

The Safe Delivery hotline is 866-733-7733.

For the program to work, however, people have to know about it, and that’s why events like the law training sessions are important. According to Safe Delivery program consultant Jean Hoffman, many teachers have shared such information with their students.

We urge others, such as emergency service providers, adoption agencies, people involved with Child Protective Services and interested community members, to learn more about the program. If they can’t become actively involved, they certainly can help people — especially a vulnerable, frightened, young parent of a newborn — become aware of it.

They don’t have to abandon their infants anymore.

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