Safe Haven

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It's hard to imagine a young woman willingly abandoning her newborn baby, but it happens all the time. Some realize they're not equipped to care for a young child.

Several years ago state lawmakers created a law to give those mothers a way out without putting their baby at risk. Now, local officials are trying to make the public aware of the program.

December 1995, on an extremely cold night, someone abandoned newborn twins on the floor of a bathroom at Lake Powell. A local couple found the babies stuffed inside a duffle bag just a few hours after their mother left them. This story had a happy ending. The children, dubbed the Christmas twins, were adopted and are living somewhere in the panhandle.

Local authorities want to make sure this type of thing never happens again. Signs started going up in Bay County Thursday showing local safe havens where anyone can leave a newborn and know it will be taken care of.

Parents or mothers of a newborn up to 72-hours-old can legally leave their newborn at a fire station, EMS station or an ER with no questions asked as long as there are no obvious signs of abuse.

Safe havens in Bay County are any manned fire station or EMS, not a voluntary fire department. From there the baby would be taken into state custody.

By leaving a child behind the parents give up all parental rights.