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    State’s ‘safe haven’ law helps infant
    Jan Risher
    [email protected]

    December 2, 2004

    LAFAYETTE — Protected by the state’s “safe haven” law, a woman walked
    into Women’s and Children’s Hospital on Saturday and gave up her infant

    After a medical evaluation, the baby was determined to be a week old.

    “We know that the baby is healthy. We think the baby was born in a hospital
    setting,” Brent Villemarette, regional administrator of the Office of
    Community Services, said.

    Nanette White with the state’s Department of Social Services said the law,
    originally enacted in 2000, allows a parent to relinquish the care of an infant
    to the state in safety and anonymity and without fear of prosecution. The law
    was amended in 2003 to allow funding for necessary publicity.

    Villemarette said he was pleased that the state’s planning and promotion of
    the “safe haven” law paid off for this child.

    “What really worked well is that everybody did their piece,” Villemarette
    said. “Mom could have gotten the wrong information, but she didn’t. The
    hospital could have reacted inappropriately, but they didn’t. Everybody did
    their part.”

    Villemarette said the only minor drawback was that the mother did not leave
    medical history information, but he said she can still call anonymously and
    give that information.

    The baby moved from a foster home to the adoption resource home on Monday. An
    adoption resource home is one that has been approved for foster and adoption
    care. Villemarette said the petition to declare the child free for adoption
    could be filed in as few as 45 days.

    Angela Jacks of Women’s and Children’s Hospital confirmed the hospital
    received a baby under the “safe haven” law. “Because of privacy laws, I
    cannot release any information,” Jacks said.

    The state lists safe havens as hospitals, public health units, fire
    departments, police departments, emergency medical service providers, pregnancy
    crisis centers and child advocacy centers.

    Villemarette said any child less than 30 days old with no signs of abuse can be
    anonymously surrendered at a safe haven. The law states a child cannot be left
    unattended — the child must be actually handed over to an individual.
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