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ADOPTION INSTITUTE URGES CALIFORNIA GOVERNOR TO VETO `SAFE HAVEN' BILL
NEW YORK, August 29, 2006 - The Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute today "strongly urged" Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to veto legislation that would legalize the abandonment of children of up to 30 days old in California, saying such a change would "do absolutely nothing to save infants' lives" but, instead, would cause numerous other problems.
Extending the time period for legal abandonment - current state law permits it for babies up to 72 hours old - is likely to "increase the number of anonymously deserted children, systemically strip biological fathers of their rights, cause lifelong grief to growing numbers of birthmothers, divest adoptive parents of vital information with which to raise their children, and institutionally deprive additional adoptees of their medical, genealogical and historical information," the Adoption Institute's Executive Director, Adam Pertman, wrote in a letter delivered to Schwarzenegger's office today.
The Adoption Institute is the pre-eminent research, policy and education organization in its field. Its mission is to provide leadership that improves laws, policies and practices - through sound research, education and advocacy - in order to better the lives of everyone touched by adoption. The Institute is nonpartisan, not-for-profit and derives no income from adoption.
In a groundbreaking study entitled "Unintended Consequences," the Adoption Institute raised serious concerns about the effectiveness of "safe haven" laws such as the one in California. The study (which is available at http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/whowe/Last%20report.pdf) concluded there is no evidence these statutes are saving babies but, instead, may be having effects their proponents had not intended - including putting pregnant women's lives at risk and encouraging the abandonment of infants who would not otherwise have been deserted. Several other research studies have come to similar conclusions.
These laws "circumvent established adoption and child-welfare practices, deprive all parties of the opportunity for counseling or exchanging medical information, starkly send the signal that fathers have no rights or say in the decision, and even allow child abusers additional time to let wounds heal and safely cover their tracks," said the Adoption Institute letter to Schwarzenegger. "For all those reasons and many others, I respectfully and strongly urge you to veto this well-intentioned but highly problematic legislation."
To arrange an interview, or for more information about the Institute, please contact Pertman at 617-332-8944 (office), 617-763-0134 (cell), or firstname.lastname@example.org. The Institute's award-winning website is www.adoptioninstitute.org.