Senator Saland's Legislation Passes Senate To Expedite Adoption Process For Abandoned Newborns

Stephen M. Saland

March 22, 2006

Senator Steve Saland (R,C Poughkeepsie), today announced that legislation (S.471A and S.488A) has passed the Senate to make it easier for abandoned infants to be adopted and clarifies existing law related to the required procedures following the abandonment of a newborn.

The Abandoned Infant Protection Act was passed in 2000 in response to several tragic, publicized cases of desperate young mothers killing or leaving their newborns to die because they felt they had no other alternative to provide for their care. The Act provides that a parent who left an infant under five days old with an appropriate care provider would not be prosecuted for the abandonment of a child and endangering the welfare of a child.

Senator Saland's legislation relieves the local Department of Social Services (DSS) of their obligation to locate the parents or relatives of the infant. Among other provisions, the bill requires that a local Commissioner of Social Services arrange for the physical examination of an infant by a physician within three business days to determine the baby’s age. If it is confirmed that the infant was under five days old when surrendered, DSS would then be authorized to provide continued assistance to the infant, including authorizing medical care and providing foster care placement. Similarly, the bill directs local social services agencies and the judicial system to process the transfer of guardianship and custody of infants permitting these babies to be declared abandoned and subsequently freed for adoption after 60 days.

"Our objective is to provide for the well-being of infants," Senator Saland said. "We need to assure those who might safely surrender a newborn within the five-day period not be prosecuted by a county social service department. This legislation will also enable these vulnerable infants to be cared for in a safe and healthy environment, and expedite their adoption."