Baby Moses Law: Mothers in crisis can safely relinquish their babies
LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - There are safe places in Lubbock and across Texas to take a baby if the mother cannot care for it. The child will be cared for, no questions asked, if taken to one of these places unharmed. It is called the Baby Moses Law.
The Baby Moses Law was created in 1999 to provide a responsible alternative for desperate mothers. A baby can be taken to any hospital, free-standing ER, fire station, or EMS station in Texas. The child must be 60 days or younger and unharmed. All the person needs to say is they are leaving their baby at the Safe Baby Site.
The mothers will not be asked to give any information and the police will not be called. Also, the mother will not be prosecuted. Nick Wilson, Deputy Chief at Lubbock Fire Rescue, says you can fill out a voluntary form to give information about your baby’s health.
“The only questions that we’re really going to ask are really going to pertain to the health of the baby, you know, to make sure that there are no medical conditions, or any other special needs that that child has that we’ll need to take care of,” Wilson said.
The child will be taken to the hospital for medical care and then the Texas Department of Protective and Regulatory Services will take custody of the child. Shawn Vandygriff has worked for Texas’ Child Protective Services for almost thirty years.
“And as long as the baby is unharmed, then we would file a petition for emergency removal and look for what should be a long-term adoptive placement for this baby,” she said.
Vandygriff says there are many reasons a mom could end up in this situation. She says they could be a teen mom who’s never told their parents they were pregnant, in a domestic violence situation or in a world of drugs and alcohol. She says that doesn’t have to be the future for their baby.
“We vet our adoptive parents and they’re placed in loving homes with somebody who wants them and will take care of them,” Vandygriff said.
Vandygriff says the Safe Baby Sight may also offer some resources to help parents during this process to get out of whatever situation forced this decision. Wilson explains why this law helps prevent cases like the one in Hobbs on Friday.
“It’s just horrifying to see that happen to a child and that’s why it’s really important that we get that message out to let these mothers, these people that are in these situations, know that you don’t have to do that with your child. That there is a place you can go, there are safe options and there are people that you can take that child to that will help care for them and make sure that all of their needs are met.”
Wilson wants parents to know it is very important to give their baby to a person working at one of the sites instead of leaving them outside, so the child can receive the best care. Wilson has been at the fire station when a mother reached the decision to surrender her baby.
“I’ll tell ya, it’s a tough situation. It’s very emotional, but also it’s very rewarding to know that that child is safe and we’ve given them an option that they may not have otherwise had,” Wilson said.
Where can I take my baby?
- Take your baby to any hospital, fire rescue station or EMS (Emergency Medical Services) station in the state of Texas.
- Please remember that it is VERY important to give your baby to a person working at one of these facilities. That is the best way to care for your baby.
- Tell the person that you want to leave your baby at the Safe Baby Site.
- Look for the yellow sign.
How old can the baby be?
- You can take your baby, up to 60 days old. What will they ask me?
- You may be provided with a voluntary form to fill out that is used to provide medical information for your child. This is NOT an attempt to try to find out who you are. This information will be put in your baby’s records and may help answer health questions in the future.
- The Safe Baby Site may offer to give you some referrals and helplines that you may want to call in the future if you want to speak with someone about what you have been through.
Is it true that the police will not be called?
- If you leave your unharmed baby (60-days-old or younger) with a person who works at a hospital, fire station or with an EMT, the police will not be called and you will not be prosecuted for abandonment or neglect.
What happens to my baby?
- If you leave your baby at a fire station or with an EMT worker, they will give the baby immediate medical care and then transport the baby to the closest hospital.
- The hospital will take care of any additional medical needs that your baby may have.
- The Texas Department of Protective and Regulatory Services (TDPRS) will then take custody of your child.
- After the legal responsibilities are fulfilled by TDPRS, your baby will be placed with a caring family.
Why must the baby be 60 days old or younger?
- The intent of the Baby Moses law is to provide a responsible alternative to desperate mothers.
- The first days of a newborn’s life are the most critical and most likely the time that immediate medical attention is required.
The “Baby Moses Law” is the common name of a law authorizing a designated emergency infant care provider to take possession of a child appearing to be 60-days-old or younger from the child’s parent, if the parent does not express intent to return for the child. You can find this law in the Texas Family Code, Chapter 262, Sub-Chapter D. Emergency Possession of Certain Abandoned Children. One purpose of the law is to encourage parents who abandon their children to do so with a designated emergency infant care provider rather than at a dangerous location. The law also protects parents from criminal prosecution when they deliver an unharmed child to a designated emergency infant care provider.
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