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Louisiana Safe Haven Law Ups Age Limit

Louisiana’s Safe Haven law is designed to give parents a safe way to give up their babies and allow them to be adopted if they feel they cannot take care of them properly. Recent changes have been made to give those parents more time to make a decision.

A version of the law has been in place since 2000, when it was enacted as a response to several cases of infant abandonment in the United States. The Code was changed previously in 2003, and from 2004 to present, 28 babies have been given up under the Safe Haven law. Two of those recently took place in New Orleans.

Representative Chris Hazel introduced a bill in 2013 that would change the existing guidelines for the Safe Haven law, increasing the age limit of the child from 30 days to 60. The changes were made to give parents more time to give up custody of the infants without having to worry about legal consequences.

Under the law, parents can drop a baby off at any fire station, police station, licensed public health unit, hospital, child advocacy center or pregnancy crisis center without being prosecuted. The law does require that the child be in good health without any signs of abuse, and parents who have relinquished their children under the law do have 30 days to contact DCFS if they change their minds.

After the parent relinquishes the child, the infant is taken for a medical exam and the parent is given a card with contact numbers on where to get information about parental rights. The parent can also use the number to anonymously give details on the child’s history. The Department of Child and Family Services also starts the process to take legal custody of the child so he or she can be adopted.

While this law protects the parent, it is designed with the best interests of the child in mind. It makesadoption, and a healthy family life, a viable option for the child. Adoption can be an emotional time for all parties involved, and an understanding of the various laws and processes involved can help streamline the experience as much as possible.

Source: The Daily News, “Changes made to Louisiana Safe Haven Law” No author given, Jan. 07, 2014

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