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Giving Up BabySafe Haven Laws, Motherhood, and Reproductive Justice$
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Laury Oaks

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9781479897926

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479897926.001.0001

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Relinquishing Motherhood

Relinquishing Motherhood

How and Why Safe Haven Surrenders Happen

(p.117) 3 Relinquishing Motherhood
Giving Up Baby

Laury Oaks

NYU Press

This chapter examines how media coverage of specific safe haven relinquishment cases reinforces assumptions about responsible motherhood while also highlighting the pressures in women's lives that may lead them to seek safe haven surrender sites. Focusing on cases of the model use, near-miss use, and misuse of safe haven laws, it explores how birth mothers, birth fathers, and others are represented in media when a baby or child is left at or near an official or presumed safe haven site. In particular, it looks at the use of Nebraska's original safe haven law by mothers, fathers, and grandparents to relinquish distressed teenagers. It also analyzes the stereotype of the “safe haven mom” as a secretive, low-income teenager, who is often a woman of color, along with media coverage of cases of diverse women's safe haven surrender experiences. Finally, it discusses silence around the identity and views of safe haven moms and its implications for safe haven babies and their adoptive families.

Keywords:   media coverage, safe haven, relinquishment, responsible motherhood, safe haven laws, Nebraska, teenagers, surrender sites, safe haven moms, safe haven babies

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