Thursday, January 11, 2001

Baby girl in foster care after drop-off


First for safe-newborn program

By Tim Bonfield
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        A healthy baby girl is living this week in a foster home after becoming the first child in Greater Cincinnati to be dropped off at a hospital under the new Secret, Safe Place for Newborns program.

        The program was created in August to give desperate parents who may not have thought about traditional adoption an alternative to abandoning or killing a baby they realize they cannot handle.

GETTING HELP
    For information about the Secret, Safe Place for Newborns program, call the United Way Helpline: (513) 721-7900.
        The program allows people to take a baby less than 3 days old to any Hamilton County hospital emergency department and walk away. As long as the baby appears unharmed, no hospital staff person will ask for the parents' names. No police agency or prosecutor in Hamilton County will press child-abandonment charges.

        “This case shows that this program works,” Hamilton County Prosecutor Mike Allen said Wednesday.

        An unidentified woman brought the yet-to-be-named baby girl to Mercy-Franciscan Hospital Western Hills about 3 a.m. Saturday, Mr. Allen said. The baby was wrapped in a T-shirt and a towel and appeared to have been born several hours earlier.

        According to protocol, hospital staff examined the baby for signs of injury or abuse and asked the woman about health problems in the family. They did not ask her name.

        The Hamilton County Department of Human Services took temporary custody of the child on Monday, then placed her in a foster home. The foster parents hope to adopt the girl.

        Another hearing will be held Jan. 16 in Hamilton County Juvenile Court to give the county more permanent custody and give the unknown parents a chance to claim the child. If no one steps forward, a final adoption hearing will be held in about 90 days, Mr. Allen said.

        Until that hearing, the birth parents can seek custody. Their relation to the girl would have to be proved through a DNA test.

        Since August, the Secret, Safe Place program has applied only to hospitals and agencies in Hamilton County. However, in December, Ohio lawmakers passed a statewide safe-haven bill that takes effect in April.

       



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