Safe place a solution for parents

By: Sara Shookman Email
By: Sara Shookman Email

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- A safe spot was just steps away. But LaFollette Police say this mom, Wanda Cieslak murdered her newborn baby boy.

He was found early Friday outside a home on Hatmaker Drive.

"No baby deserves to be treated like that, or to die that way," said Shannon McCloud, the executive director of Secret Safe Place for Newborns of Tennessee.

McCloud devotes her time to stop that from happening, "It gives [a mother] a way to keep that baby safe and give that baby a real chance with another family."

Parents can drop off an unwanted baby up to three days old to a hospital, fire or police station, the health department or other designated spot.

"The mother can walk into one of those places, hand her baby to someone who works there, and walk away without answering any questions or giving any information," said McCloud.

"If somebody comes in and wants to surrender their child, we will take them," said Dr. Martha Buchanan with the Knox County Health Department. "We'll get them to a safe place. We'll contact DCS."

It's state law, and it's happened 37 times in Tennessee, placing 37 children in loving homes.

Sarah Long, a social worker for Child and Family Tennessee says help can come even earlier.

"The first signs that something could be wrong. If a family is struggling with substance abuse or mental health problems, the earlier you intervene the better you can prevent something like this from happening," said Long.

Whether a parent needs help from with support, or an underlying problem like drugs or mental health issues, there's a constructive way to deal with the stress.

"It can be very overwhelming. I don't know a mother out there that hasn't felt that stress before," she said.

At Child and Family Tennessee, there are resources available even before a child is born, ranging from parenting tips and advice, to substance abuse treatment and counseling.

You can find more information by clicking on the link below.

Secret Safe Place has a 24-7 helpline by calling 1-866-699-SAFE (7233).

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  • by Angela Plese Location: Knox County on Oct 26, 2011 at 07:40 PM
    There are over 1,000 couples in Tennessee who are willing to adopt newborn babies born to mothers who place their children for adoption. There are many couples who wish to adopt children with down syndrome and other birth defects. Clearly we love children in Tennessee and are willing to care for them regardless of their circumstances. With this in mind,there are no unwanted children in Tennessee and we must not make excuses for a mother who chooses death over placing her baby with a loving couple. We have established a safe place law to eliminate the birth mother's responsibility to her newborn child. The reasoning behind the law was that children would be saved. However, this case demonstrates that freedom must be accompanied by personal responsibility and a respect for life or we will live in a society where children are not safe. It is time to take a stand for life and defend those who are the most defenseless among us.


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