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CHILDREN AND FAMILIES CELEBRATE
ANNIVERSARY OF ILLINOIS' "SAFE HAVEN LAW"


27 newborns safely, legally relinquished and adopted
in 5 years of Abandoned Newborn Infant Protection Act

CHICAGO, Nov. 14, 2006 - Children adopted under Illinois' "Safe Haven Law" joined their adoptive families, adoption agencies, the Save Abandoned Babies Foundation and the Department of Children and Family Services today to recognize the 5-year anniversary of the Illinois Abandoned Newborn Infant Protection Act and call for increased public awareness of this safe and legal alternative to abandonment. In an educational forum and reception hosted and sponsored by Mike Ditka's Restaurant in Chicago, some of the first children adopted under the law celebrated with their adoptive families, as advocates spoke out on the law and its potential to protect newborns in Illinois.

"Even one life saved is a victory for our children," said Save Abandoned Babies Foundation President Dawn Geras, "and to know that 27 newborns have been safely, legally relinquished and adopted into loving families over these 5 years validates the importance of this legislation. We thank the many families and adoption agencies who have stepped forward to help, and appeal to all to help spread knowledge of this law."

The Save Abandoned Babies Foundation, a not-for-profit volunteer group dedicated to saving the lives of newborns that might otherwise be abandoned, began its grassroots effort in March of 2000, and by August of 2001 had won passage of the Illinois Abandoned Newborn Infant Protection Act. At that time, Illinois became the 15th state to pass a "Safe Haven Law", and 47 states now have similar legislation in effect. This past June, 2006, Governor Rod. R. Blagojevich signed new legislation amending the law to extend the period that a parent may legally relinquish an unharmed infant from 72 hours to 7 days, helping to save more lives by giving parents in crisis more time to responsibly consider their options. The law provides that a parent need only hand over the newborn, with no questions asked, to staff at a hospital, emergency care facility, police station or fire station. Through a licensed adoption agency, the newborn is then placed for adoption with a loving family.

"The beauty of the Safe Haven Law is that it completes the loving and responsible choice of the birthparent by giving an adoptive family the unimaginable joy of loving and raising a child," said the parents of "Baby Zoe", one of the very first children adopted under the law in Illinois.

While "Baby Zoe" was one of the 27 newborns legally relinquished and adopted under the law, records kept by DCFS show that 43 infants were illegally abandoned during those same 5 years, with 21 of those found dead. On a national level, the National Safe Haven Alliance, based on information from 37 of the 47 states that have a Safe Haven law, reports that at least 806 infants that have been legally surrendered since the first state based legislation.

DCFS collaborates with the Save Abandoned Babies Foundation to build public awareness of the Safe Haven Law. Over the last 3 years, the Department has printed and distributed statewide over 800,000 brochures, posters and bus cards, in three languages. Recent initiatives by the Foundation have included the posting of Safe Haven signs outside all designated locations in Chicago, as well as the distribution of thousands of educational teacher kits to schools who are now required under state law to incorporate the Safe Haven Law into health education classes. Volunteers and donors are encouraged to contact the Foundation at www.saveabandonedbabies.org, or by calling 312-440-0229.


-30-

Contact:
Kendall Marlowe, 312-814-6847

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