Newsmakers Making A Difference: Dawn Geras, Save Abandoned Babies Foundation

Julie Mann
May 31, 2018 - 9:31 am

Dawn Geras/Twitter

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- For Dawn Geras, it started with an article in the newspaper back in 1999. 

"It was about a baby found in a garbage can, and that story resonated with me and I thought someone ought to do something about this," she said.

Geras is now the head of the Save Abandoned Babies Foundation. She started her journey to help parents in distress. With a group of determined volunteers, Geras took the idea for a Safe Haven law to Springfield and the state legislature.  

"We lobbied for a law, because I really felt everyday we waited [without a law> another baby's life was in jeopardy," Geras said.  

The Abandoned Newborn Infant Protection Act passed unanimously in 2001.  It allows parents of an uninjured newborn, 30 days or younger, to relinquish the baby at a staffed fire station or staffed police, or be handed to hospital staff member or emergency care facility, with no questions asked or fear of prosecution. 

Geras said although there is now a law on the book, there needed to be awareness. 

"And then we thought, okay, if we pass this wonderful pieces of legislation, but nobody knows about it, what's going to happen, it's still not going to work," Geras said.  

Save Abandoned Babies Foundation

The Save Abandoned Babies Foundation was created to let people know about the Save Haven law and how it works. They also worked to educate first responders on what to do if a parent wants to hand over an infant at one of the designated locations.     

The first baby to be relinquished under Illinois' Safe Haven law was a newborn who was handed over to nurses at a hospital in Rockford. 

"Baby Matthew, who is now in high school," said Geras. 

More than 100 newborns have been safely relinquished since then. But there is still more to do. 

"We need to reach women before they go into crisis mode. If we can educate them ahead of time, to know that the law is out there, then maybe we won't have any more illegal abandonment," she said.

As WBBM celebrates its 50th anniversary as Newsradio, this year we’ll be honoring 50 Newsmakers making a difference in the community.  Listen for reports each Tuesday.

READ MORE: Newsmakers Making A Difference: Chris Baker, Owner Of INK 180 Ministry | Newsmakers Making A Difference: Carrie Capes, Founder Of HorsePower Therapeutic Riding | Newsmakers Making A Difference: Ryan Dowd, Hesed House | Newsmakers Making A Difference: Michelle Morales, Mikva Challenge | Newsmakers Making A Difference: Stephanie Weber, Suicide Prevention Services Of America | Newsmakers Making A Difference: Deborah Giesler, Synapse House | Newsmakers Making A Difference: Bob And Sonya Evanosky, Aspen Lane Wine Company