To: Governor Linda Lingle
Senate President Colleen Hanabusa
Senator Suzanne Chun-Oakland
Speaker of the House Calvin K.Y. Say
Representative John Mizuno
Re: Testimony in opposition to HB1830
HB 1830 does not effectively address the problem of child abandonment. Studies indicate that, in those states with “safe havens,” babies are still being dumped in trashcans. (1) Research indicates that women who discard or kill their newborns show they do so in a state of panic or fear, denying or concealing the pregnancy, usually experiencing labor and delivery alone. (2) Safe haven laws are not designed to affect the decisions and actions of these women because they are unlikely to be calm enough to consider dropping off their babies at a designated safe place; and they are not necessarily worried about being prosecuted. (3) Because we live on an island, the chances of the birth mother being seen by someone who knows her and her family are moderately high. After trying to conceal the pregnancy, would she really take a chance to be seen dropping her baby off or staying around to be identified?
This law will, in fact, totally disrupt our rich cultural traditions of “ohana” and “hanai” that make our state and its people so unique. Though the bill tries to address the issue of stolen babies, because the bill insures “anonymity and confidentiality”, it creates a huge problem: the birth families’ lack of knowledge of the baby’s existence.
Birthfathers would be giving up their rights to a child without even knowing. Relatives would not have the opportunity to keep this child in the family. This would separate the child from its heritage (e.g., racial, ethnic, ancestral, medical, including prenatal, family, and genetic history). Given that we, in
While this bill may save a baby on a short-term basis, long-term survival of this child continues to be at stake. Even if the bill is conditional upon receiving medical history, it may only generate a snapshot of the young person’s medical history, with no way to update it as it changes in the future. This bill cannot even guarantee that the information, medical or otherwise, the person receiving the baby gets an accurate and truthful. So the baby’s medical status continues to hang in the balance. For these adoptees, the long-term, lifelong psychological impact of being abandoned and rejected in this manner, of lacking any information about themselves has been well documented in the mental health field. (5, 6)
Safe haven laws undermine the long-term interests of these children their birth parents and their families, the families in which these children will be placed, and the diverse ethnic communities which these children should rightfully remain part of.
As an organization that supports truth and openness in adoption, Adoption Circle of Hawai’i opposes this bill. ACH is a non-profit volunteer 501 c 3 organization that provides support to members of the adoption triad (adopted persons, birth parents, and adoptive parents) and educated the community about the lifelong impact of the adoption experience. SCH facilitates free support group meetings every 4th Sunday of the month at Harris United Methodist Church form 2-4 p.m. State lawmakers who want to learn more about the long-term consequences of this bill are encouraged to join us.
Tom Moore, President,
Adoption Circle of Hawai’i
1 Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, 2003. Unintended consequences: Safe Haven laws are causing problems, not solving them.
2 National Abandoned
3 Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, 2003. Unintended consequences: Safe Haven laws are causing problems, not solving them.
4 HCR No. 344 H.D. 1
4. Smith, Eileen (2002). Adopted children: core issues and unique challenges Journakl of Child & Adolsecent Psychiatry Nursing 15, 143-`50.
5. Pertman, Adam (2000) Adoption natino: How the adoptino revolution is transforming America Basic Books: New York.