A person holds a baby's little hand.
What you need to know about safe haven laws. (For Spectrum Health Beat)

I recently saw a movie called The Drop Box. This movie was about drop boxes in several countries which allow mothers to leave their newborn babies in capable hands rather than abandoning them.

This movie showed the drop box in Seoul, Korea, but it also mentioned locations in Croatia and Japan. Many babies’ lives have been saved by these.

After viewing this film, I wondered, “How many people know about the Safe Haven Law in Michigan?”

The law states, “You can leave your baby, up to 3 days old, with a staff member at any hospital, fire station, police station or any emergency service provider that is on duty in Michigan.” There are laws in every state, but the details may vary.

Why do states need these laws? These laws prevent abandonment of babies, which sometimes leads to infant death. Texas was the first state to pass this type of law in 1999 and it’s estimated it has saved more than 1,000 babies.

This Safe Haven Law is different than adoption (adoption is typically set up with an agency during the mother’s pregnancy.) A newborn baby may be left at an approved location without any questions or prosecution. Any adult can drop the baby off. If the mother does not reclaim the baby, he or she will be eligible for adoption.

Though the mother doesn’t need to give any information, she will be encouraged to share her and the baby’s medical history. Revealing the father’s identity is also suggested, but not required. The state will try to find the father and ask if he is interested in caring for the baby.

The person taking the baby may also ask for a signed release. However, the parents can petition to have their baby returned to them in the first 28 days if they change their mind.

After the baby is dropped off at one of the approved locations, he or she will be taken to a hospital and given a physical. Next, an agency will take the baby into protective custody. This agency will oversee care of the baby, find out if the baby is a missing child, meet the baby’s parents if they are known, attempt to locate the non-surrendering parent and place the baby with adoptive parents.

After watching this movie, it’s encouraging to know that the state of Michigan has ways, for mothers who feel they can’t take care of their baby, to hand them off without repercussions.

Were you aware of this law? Do you know anyone that needs to know this law? If so, please share it with them.