State spreads awareness of safe delivery law for newborns

By CECILIA BROWN

Journal Staff Writer

MARQUETTE — Agencies across the state are spreading the word about Michigan’s Safe Delivery Law, which legally allows biological parents to surrender an infant 72 hours old or less to an on-duty employee inside a hospital, fire department or police station, or by calling 911 and surrendering an infant to an EMT or paramedic.

Michigan’s Safe Delivery Law was enacted in 2001, with the aim of reducing newborn abandonment and saving the lives of newborns who may have otherwise been abandoned, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. Since the law has been enacted, over 200 newborns have been safely surrendered through the program.

“It’s safe, its legal and it’s anonymous,” Trooper Stacy Rasanen of the Michigan State Police said.

To increase awareness and highlight the significance of this law, April 20 was proclaimed Safe Delivery of Newborns Day by Gov. Rick Snyder.

“There are a number of reasons that people are frightened or panicked … we want to make sure they know there’s an option that can save infants from injury,” Rasanen said.

As part of their outreach efforts regarding the Safe Delivery Law, the Michigan State Police and the MDHHS want to promote public awareness of this law, as public knowledge of this safe surrender option can help prevent infant abandonment.

“Tragically, newborn infants have died due to neglect and exposure after being abandoned. This reminds us of the importance of ensuring public awareness of the Safe Delivery Law,” Nick Lyon, MDHHS director, said in a press release. “We urge all Michiganders to help spread the word about the safe, legal and anonymous option of surrendering an infant, who will then be placed with a loving adoptive family.”

The law allows a biological parent to legally surrender an infant less than 72 hours old and remain anonymous if they wish, with the option to confidentially share identifying information or basic health information.

According to the MDHHS, the law requires that an agencies must make a “reasonable attempt” to identify the non-surrendering parent of the infant who was surrendered. Furthermore, the statue requires that the child placing agency must “make a reasonable effort to identify, locate and provide notice of the surrender of the newborn to the non-surrendering parent.”

Officials said when a newborn is surrendered, the newborn will be taken to a hospital for an examination to ensure that they are unharmed and not showing signs of abuse or neglect. If the child does show signs of abuse or neglect, child protective services will be contacted, officials said.

Temporary protective custody will be given to a private adoption agency that will place the infant with an approved adoptive family.

Biological parents can change their mind about the surrender and petition the court to regain custody 28 days from the date of surrender or notice of surrender, according to MDHHS.

To learn more about the Safe Delivery Law, visit Michigan.gov/safedelivery. An informational video is available at: www.youtube. com/watch?v=rg0FYPl69GQ. There is also a toll-free 24-hour hotline available to provide information on services available to a prospective parent. The number is 866-733-7733.

Cecilia Brown can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 248. Her email address is cbrown@miningjournal .net.

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