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Oklahoma legislator touts safe haven law’s success after discovery of Shawnee twins

BY RANDY ELLIS Published: May 9, 2010

nchester said she was told about a similar incident in Grady County.

"What you’d really like to have happen is to have birth parents realize that there is the adoption option,” Winchester said.

Through adoption agencies, women who find themselves in 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 for the future benefit of the child.

"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.”

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

The state’s voluntary foster care program can be extremely helpful, she said. An overwhelmed mother can put her baby in the voluntary foster care program for 30 to 90 days while DHS employees work with the mother to develop a service plan to take care of the family’s monetary, housing, food and other needs, she said.

Often, Medicaid assistance can be obtained, Smith said.

Beth Scott, DHS spokeswoman, said financial benefits can be obtained through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program. Food benefits are available through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which replaced food stamps. Child care assistance and help in obtaining child support also are available, she said.

The state Health Department administers the Women, Infants, and Children program, which provides food items.