Posted on July 31, 2023 by Kim Laube
As a result of legislative efforts by Lutheran Family Service, private adoption agencies like LFS now have the ability to receive Iowa infants through the Safe Haven Act. Branch offices in Urbandale, Fort Dodge, Bettendorf, and Council Bluffs are prepared to do so.
“We asked the Iowa Legislature to make this change for one simple reason, some women are afraid to go to the Department of Human Services, and that fear may prevent them from making a safe decision for their baby,” says Kim Laube Deputy Director of Lutheran Family Service. Some women also believe their infant will wind up in foster care if they go through DHS for a safe haven relinquishment, which holds a very negative connotation for them. By giving the option to relinquish to a private adoption agency, women may feel there is a more stable process for their child to bond with an adoptive family right away.
Since the inception of this Safe Haven Act in Iowa in 2002, a few changes have taken place including increasing the age limit up to 90 days old, rather than just 30. There have been over 50 babies relinquished through the Safe Haven Act since 2002.
Safe Haven relinquishments are different than traditional adoption because the birth parent has no obligation to give any identifying information for themselves or the child they are relinquishing. Many women find themselves in dangerous situations during an unexpected pregnancy, especially if there are people in their life who are violent. Safe Haven relinquishments allow the birthmother, birthfather, or a designee to bring the child to a safe location and never reveal any information about themselves or the child without being prosecuted for abandonment.
Lutheran Family Service will bring all infants relinquished through Safe Haven to a medical professional for evaluation and treatment. While that is occurring, we will be calling our numerous adoptive families to line up a family to receive the child in adoption as quickly as possible. Many factors go into deciding who the adoptive parents will be, but our focus is always on the best interest of the child.
We learned through the process of requesting this change in the Iowa law, that the vast majority of children who are relinquished through Safe Haven are done so at the hospital just following birth, but on the off chance an Adoption Caseworker may encounter a mother who has just given birth outside of a medical setting, CPR and basic first aid certification was given to the staff in order to prepare.
For any birth parent needing the Safe Haven service for their child who is 90 days old or less, they can text “Safe” to 844-764-2029. For those inquiring about adopting a child through Lutheran Family Service, you can get more information at www.lutheranfamilyservice.org about our domestic infant adoption program.
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