Fewer illegal abandonments

The news: A man left nine of his 10 children at a hospital in Nebraska under the state’s safe-haven law.

Behind the news: According to data from the Save Abandoned Babies Foundation, a nonprofit that keeps tabs on abandoned newborns, 47 newborns were relinquished under Illinois’ safe-haven law since it was enacted in 2001. Another 53 were “illegally” abandoned, of which 26 died.

The highest percentage of newborns relinquished in Illinois were white, at 42 percent. African Americans followed at 35 percent and Latinos at 15 percent.

The state’s safe-haven law was amended in 2006 to allow parents to anonymously relinquish newborns who are 7 days old or younger.

The number of newborns legally relinquished has increased from two in 2002 to nine in 2008–”while the numbers of illegally abandoned babies have dropped from 12 in 2005 to four in 2008.

Kendall Marlowe, an Illinois Department of Children and Family Services spokesman, said child abandonment is seen across all racial and socioeconomic lines.

Dawn Geras, a founding member of the Save Abandoned Babies Foundation, said Illinois’ safe-haven law is designed to protect newborns and provide them with the opportunity for a better future.

“There are so many people [who] would want to adopt a baby. It’s a matter of accepting that infant can’t be cared for by the biological family and letting a family that really wants, and can take care of that child, have that child,” Geras said.

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