Polk groups raise awareness of Safe Haven law - WFLA News Channel 8

Polk groups raise awareness of Safe Haven law

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POLK COUNTY, FL (WFLA) - A group of Polk County organizations is working to raise awareness about Florida's Safe Haven Law in the hopes that awareness will change children's lives.
 
At a luncheon today of the Polk County Safe Haven Coalition speakers detailed the importance of spreading the word about the options that exist for women facing unplanned pregnancies.
 
"We're dedicated to reaching the pregnant girls in the state of Florida before they reach the crisis stage," explained Safe Haven Law founder Nick Silverio.
 
Silverio spearheaded the Safe Haven Law back in 2001. The statute allows the parents of a newborn baby to surrender that child within seven days of its birth to a staff member at any fire station or hospital in the state with no questions asked.
 
Polk County Commissioner George Lindsey created the Polk Safe Haven Coalition after hearing about the case of ninth grader Cassidy Goodson last year.
 
Polk deputies say Goodson, who was 14 at the time, gave birth to a baby boy in September 2012 then strangled the newborn. They say she hid the body in a shoebox in her closet to prevent her family from finding out about the pregnancy.
 
Lindsey created the coalition to raise awareness in the community about the Safe Haven Law and the countless other resources that exist -- and not just for young mothers.
 
"The greater audience that I'm trying to reach are the friends and the family that are in contact with these young ladies that previously someone had to know. Someone knew," Lindsey said.
 
As part of today's luncheon organizers also invited a family that adopted one of the nation's 202 babies surrendered to a Safe Haven location this year.
 
Don and Sarah, who didn't want to reveal their last names in order to protect their privacy, have a two and a half month old son who was surrendered to paramedics the day he was born.
 
"It's awesome that it's a law and you know that these birth mothers that are in these scary situations have that choice, otherwise there would be a lot darker scenarios out there," Don said.
 
Sarah had her own message specifically for the young woman who gave birth to her son.
 
"We would want to thank her, first of all, for taking care of herself so that she had a healthy baby. We can't imagine the strength it took for her to deliver the baby alone," Sarah said.
 
"We're so grateful that she was aware of the Safe Haven Law and that in the end she did chose to place this baby and give it a life and complete our family," she said.
 
To learn more about the Safe Haven Law you can go to www.asafehavenfornewborns.com <http://www.asafehavenfornewborns.com>. The state also has a confidential and multi-lingual helpline -- 1-877-767-BABY (2229)
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