Safe Haven Law for children up to 3 years old...

[deleted account] ( 4 moms have responded )

Most states have Safe Haven laws that allow mothers to abandon their unwanted children in a police station, fire station, EMS station, or church (if staffed), no questions asked within 30 days of the birth.
After 30 days, you can still relinquish custody to the foster system, or place the child up for adoption, but you have to fill out some forms. The process is free for the abandoning mother.

My state wants to pass a bill that would expand our Safe Haven laws to allow mothers to abandon their unwanted children in the above locations, no questions asked withing 3 Years of the birth. So a mother could legally drop her 2 1/2 yr old off, no questions asked.

Here is a link to the story in our local news:

And the article:
Columbia, SC --
A bill that would expand South Carolina's safe haven law for newborns is getting some opposition in a House panel working on the bill.

Right now, state law allows a parent to safely abandon a newborn up to 30 days old at a hospital, fire or EMS station, law enforcement agency or house of worship that is staffed. As long as the baby shows no signs of abuse or neglect, the parent cannot be punished. The baby must be left in an employee's hands.

The bill would expand the age up to children under the age of three and would add to the list of safe havens a staffed local or state office of the Department of Social Services.

The current law is called Daniel's Law, after a baby boy who was buried in a landfill shortly after birth and survived. Nurses named him Daniel.

Rep. Chip Limehouse, R-Charleston, is the main sponsor of the bill. He says the Susan Smith and Shaquan Duley cases prompted it. Smith is in state prison for killing her two young sons, Michael and Alex, in 1994.

Duley is an Orangeburg mother who confessed to suffocating her 2-year-old and 18-month-old sons, strapping them into their car seats and letting the car roll into a river last year.

"In both of these cases, had our law, our proposed law been in effect, a lot of this may have been averted," Limehouse says. "We want them to drop them off and not murder them. That's pretty simple."

But the bill is far from a sure thing. At a subcommittee meeting Thursday, some House members expressed concern that no other state's safe haven law allows for children up to the age of three to be abandoned.

49 states and Puerto Rico have safe haven laws. Most apply to newborns 30 days old or younger. Missouri and North Dakota allow for the oldest children, both allowing a parent to abandon a child no more than one year old.

Rep. David Weeks, D-Sumter, says the Smith and Duley cases are bad examples on which to base this bill. "In both of those instances, those parents had an opportunity to leave those children with other family members, go down to DSS, go down to the police department, go down to a hospital and say 'I don't want these children'", he says, adding that parents can already put older children up for adoption.

Since there are concerns about the bill, the subcommittee did not pass it but agreed to work on it at later meetings, possibly as early as next week.

According to the state Department of Social Services, since 2006, eleven babies have been abandoned under Daniel's Law.

How do you feel about the age limits? Is 30 days enough time for a woman to decide if she wants to raise the child or not, or realize she has her own issues to overcome and needs to give the baby up for it's own safety? Do you think 3 years is too old? Could that lead to detachment disorders?


Jodi - posted on 03/31/2011




I think 3 years is ridiculous. Any person who feels the need to drop off a toddler (such as the example where the mother drops them off instead of murdering them) needs help, immediate and very serious help. I don't think the ability to just drop and run is going to solve the problem, because I am SURE there was SOME support service she could have gone to that would have helped her (even removing her children while she sought help). I just can't see it as a feasible alternative. Instead, support services should be readily available for these people, as well as availability of respite care while they get help, and PROMOTE their availability within the community. For a mother to kill her children, she is not in her right mind. It is about a LOT more than not wanting her children.


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Stifler's - posted on 03/31/2011




Better the kids get adopted out than be with people that don't want them and end up dead or abused.

Johnny - posted on 03/31/2011




I wouldn't say I like the idea... but if a parent is at the point where they can see themselves actually abandoning their child, where they think it is the best, safest choice for the child, well, the alternative of forcing them to keep the child seems like it could be even worse. I do think it is entirely possible that an abandoned 3 year old will end up with some major issue, but I have to wonder if the same thing or worse could happen if that child stayed with the parent. I do think that there have to be better options, like voluntary state intervention or giving the child up for an organized adoption. But if someone is so messed up that they can't think of those kind of things, the kids might be better off not being with them at the time. Toddlerhood can be way harder to manage for some parents than babyhood, I can see that this law may save some little lives.

Melissa - posted on 03/31/2011




I think anyone who doesn't want their child needs to examine their options. There's adoption, and I'm a huge advocate of that. There are so many capable, loving people who would make amazing parents, but ever since the spike in abortion, the availability for adoption has decreased significantly. In the case of the mother who killed her two children, I think the statement "We want them to drop them off and not murder them. That's pretty simple." is a little sad. This woman could have had them adopted, she could have left them with family members, with their father, she could have even abandoned them in front of the police station and let state officials work through it, but she didn't. There are an unbelievable number of options a person who doesn't want their child can utilize, I personally don't think there's any reason to extend the age limit. On the other hand, having the option there, I don't think, would do any harm. I think if a parent has reached the point where they're willing to just hand their own child away (which I think is horrible!!!) then it's in the child's best interest to be as far away from that person as possible. This is a horrible subject, it's so sad, I couldn't ever understand or comprehend that sort of mentality.

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