Safe Haven Law Gives Parents Options

Tuesday, May 26th 2009, 5:01 pm
By: News On 6

By Dan Bewley and Terry Hood, The News On 6

SAPULPA, OK -- The News On 6 has learned a newborn baby left abandoned in a trash dumpster in Sapulpa is doing "fantastic."

Sapulpa Police detectives say the little boy is still in the hospital, but doesn't seem to have any complications.

The little boy was found inside a trash dumpster late Sunday morning.

An employee at the Disabled American Veterans, who decided to come in and take out the trash over the weekend, found the newborn along with bags of garbage.

"When I received the phone call, I initially thought the baby was deceased. And then a person advised me, no it's alive," Major Jeff Gilliland of Sapulpa Police said on Sunday.

5/26/2009  Related Story: Search For Mom Who Abandoned Newborn Continues

As investigators look to find who put the newborn in the dumpster, child advocates are pointing out there is an option for parents who feel they can't take care of their baby. It's called the Safe Haven Law.

"It's surprising that somebody would not be aware of it," said Jim Walker of Tulsa Youth Services.

Jim Walker says the law is intended to help parents who are overrun by the responsibility of raising a child.

"It's useful because it does allow, often teenagers who may be desperate and don't know what to do with the baby or don't want the baby, to in a responsible way, actually turn it in," said Walker.

Under the law, parents can leave a baby who is less than 7 days old at any place that can provide medical treatment, such as a hospital, medical clinic, even a fire or police station -- no questions asked.

Walker says the baby in Sapulpa is lucky to have been found and hopes other desperate parents remember there is a safe haven.

"Why this individual would not know or whoever may have been helping her didn't know, it's just sad," said Walker.

The baby is now in the custody of DHS. Investigators are asking anyone with information to call the Sapulpa Police Department at (918) 224-3862.