Author of Baby-Haven Law Happy for Shawnee Twins - - Oklahoma City, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports |

Author of Baby-Haven Law Happy for Shawnee Twins

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Associated Press

OKLAHOMA CITY -- An author of an Oklahoma law allowing infants to be left at public facilities without penalty says she's pleased at what happened at a Shawnee fire station on May 1, when newborn twins were found in the bed of a pickup truck.

"It worked!" said former Chickasha state Rep. Susan Winchester.

She said she was thrilled to see recent news pictures of healthy twin babies accompanied by stories about how they had been left by a mother who thought she was too poor to care for them.

Winchester and then-state Sen. Bernest Cain of Oklahoma City wrote the law that took effect in 2001 allowing a parent to leave a baby up to 7 days old with a medical services provider or child rescuer without fear of prosecution. Approved drop-off points include police stations, fire stations, child protective services agencies, hospitals or other medical centers.

Winchester said the story out of Shawnee last week "just warms your heart."

"Instead of headline news saying they found a baby dead in a trash can somewhere, you find a picture of two beautiful little kids that are safe and healthy and will have good homes," she said. "I said (in urging adoption of the legislation), `If we saved the life of just one baby, it made everything worthwhile."'

The Shawnee twins, a boy and a girl, were newborns whose umbilical cords had been tied off with small rubber bands. They were found in the back of a firefighter's pickup at a Shawnee fire station after a woman called a city dispatcher to say she had dropped the infants off at the station because she was not able to care for them.

Shawnee police have been trying to identify and locate the mother to check on her safety and obtain family history and medical information for the benefit of the babies. They also have been trying to identify the father to determine if he wants to exercise custody rights.

Winchester said she doesn't know how many Oklahoma children have been given up by parents under the safe haven law because it contained no tracking requirement. But she said she thinks such occurrences are rare.

She said, however, that she wishes parents who find themselves needing to give up a newborn were better informed about what she called "the adoption option."

Through adoption agencies, women with unwanted pregnancies can be given places to live where their expenses are covered, she said. The mother receives prenatal and postnatal care, and family medical information can be obtained.

"In this day and time, you have the option of looking at profiles of families that you want to choose to have your child," Winchester said. "You can have an open adoption. You can actually meet with them. It's so different than it was 30 or 40 years ago when everything was secret and behind closed doors. You can have a say in the placement of your child."

Deborah Smith, program director for the children and family services division of the state Department of Human Services, said a pregnant woman or new mother in crisis can get help at her local DHS office. Assistance can range from information about adoption to services that might enable a mother to keep her child, Smith said.

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