The Safe Haven Law in Louisiana allows parents to turn their newborn child in at a designated emergency care location (i.e. hospital, police/fire station, etc.). Parents who choose this option will not face criminal charges as long as the infant shows no signs of abuse or neglect. With this law, a parent must place the child in the arms of an emergency care employee. For parents that do not have transportation, they may call 911 for a law enforcement officer or EMS provider to pick up the baby. Parents can do this with children up to 31-days-old. Department of Children and Family Services will then begin proceedings to obtain custody of the baby to free the child for adoption.
A 35-year-old Pearl River, Louisiana woman could have safely and anonymously given up custody of her newborn infant. Instead, she will now face criminal charges for abandoning the child in her own backyard.
The woman admitted to giving birth to the child. However, she hid the fact that she gave birth to the child from her family by wearing oversized clothing. Without her husband knowing, she left the newborn in her back yard.
The woman's 13-year-old son and 15-year-old daughter came across the infant when they heard it crying. The child still had the umbilical cord attached and it was placed on the ground, wrapped up in towels. The teens' father also helped watch over the infant while emergency crews headed to the scene. None of the family members knew whose baby it was until the wife/mother admitted to giving birth and hiding it from her family.
The baby has been listed in stable, but critical condition at a Louisiana hospital.
The woman, who was also treated at the hospital, is to be charged with second-degree cruelty to a juvenile and child desertion. Law enforcement continue to investigate the case to see if any other charges should be filed against the woman or anyone else who may have been involved.
The woman and her husband have three other kids, two of which are teens. Authorities are investigating to make sure they are safe.
Having a child can be stressful, particularly if an additional mouth to feed will add great financial burden to an already strained family. Sadly, this all could have been avoided if the woman utilized a state law that gives desperate parents an out from having to retain children they cannot take care of. The parent is also provided with resources that educate them on their parental rights and what they could possibly do if they wanted to reclaim custody of the child.
Source: WAFB-TV Channel 9, "Mom faces charges after newborn found in yard," Joshua Auzenne and Amber Stegall, Jan. 18, 2012