Inspired by a newspaper article about a baby found in a dumpster, in 2000 Dawn Geras began her tireless quest to give desperate parents an alternative to unsafe abandonment and unwanted infants a chance at a happy, healthy life. At the time, Illinois was one of only 15 states that did not have a “safe haven” law allowing for the anonymous and legal relinquishment of a newborn child to a safe environment. With the support of a dedicated group of volunteers, Dawn spearheaded passage of the Abandoned Newborn Infant Protection Act by the Illinois General Assembly, and the legislation was signed into law on August 17, 2001 (Public Act 92-408). She founded the 501(c)(3) Save Abandoned Babies Foundation shortly thereafter to raise awareness of Illinois’ Safe Haven law.
Dawn was recognized by the Illinois State Senate in 2001 and the Northbrook Civic Federation in 2002 for her efforts to ensure passage of the Illinois Abandoned Newborn Protection Act. She is the 2001 recipient of EverThrive Illinois’ (formerly the Illinois Maternal and Child Health Coalition) advocacy award, the 2006 recipient of the Illinois State Treasurer’s “Woman to Woman: Making a Difference” award, and the 2014 recipient of the Women’s Bar Association of Illinois’ “Women of Vision” award. In 2008, the Chicago Sun-Times acknowledged Dawn’s contributions by naming her one of the “50 People Who Make Chicago A Better Place.”
In recognition of its work to raise awareness of the safe haven law, in 2008 the Save Abandoned Babies Foundation was honored by Prevent Child Abuse Illinois with the “Program Excellence Award” and received special recognition at the March of Dimes’ Jonas Salk Health Leadership Awards Luncheon.