QUAD CITIES – Many parents are wondering what other options 19 year-old mother Kendra Meaker may have had with her three-week old baby Mia Graci Thompson.
The Stark County Sheriff’s Department said Friday Meaker admitted to putting her baby in a ditch off of Highway 17 in rural Stark County. The Child Abuse Council of the Quad Cities says that mothers sometimes feel confused and even embarrassed after giving birth to their child.
“They’re scared of how people will look at them,” child abuse worker Angie Kendall said. “They’re scared of how it will affect their lives.”
Kendall deals with mothers not knowing what to do with their babies all the time. She says there’s a very good alternative to simply giving up your baby in a way that could harm them.
The Safe Haven law allows a mother to give up her child at certain locations after they give birth. Some of those locations are fire departments, police departments, and hospitals.
“It went into effect to protect children,” Kendall said. “The buildings usually have a Safe Haven logo on their door, so you know that it’s a hospital, police station, or that sort of thing.”
In Iowa, both Davenport Genesis Medical Centers are Safe Havens. Trinity Regional Health Systems is also a Safe Haven in Bettendorf. In Illinois, the Rock Island, Moline, and even East Moline Police Departments also serve as Safe Havens.
“Parents then have the opportunity to give as much information as they would like to,” Kendall said.
The Safe Haven law also means that parents won’t be prosecuted as long as they bring their child into one of the Safe Haven locations within 14 days after they’re born in Iowa or 30 days after they’re born in Illinois. The Safe Haven place then gives the baby to an area hospital if it wasn’t already brought there. Then, the hospital helps find the baby an adopted family.
“Even abandoning a child so to speak under the law still has far less impact than having a child suffer trauma, abuse, neglect, and death, by leaving them somewhere in the community,” Kendall said.
There are steps parents can take before they get to the Safe Haven law. The Child Abuse Council of the Quad Cities offers help that both mothers and fathers can get if they’re thinking about giving up their child. The center is on 16th Street in Rock Island.