When a baby is rescued, explains Jaccard, it is placed into foster adoptive care. The courts then have a fact-finding hearing and allow the birth father to acknowledge paternity within 30 days. Couples who want to adopt a baby can take the child into foster care until parental rights terminate. After termination, a couple can then petition the courts for adoption of the child. This can take anywhere from six months to a year to complete.
Jaccard will travel anywhere and do virtually anything to prevent the loss of innocent lives.
In August, after guiding a birth mother he called Erica Hope through a delivery over the phone—the ninth baby the Children of Hope/Baby Safe Haven program delivered via phone so far this year—he flew to Fort Meyers Beach, Fla. to rescue what would be an “absolutely gorgeous” baby girl.
“We met in the woods where she handed me the baby,” he says. “She was pushing a stroller with two children about 1 year and 2 years old. The baby was in a beach gym bag flung over her shoulder. I approached her and she handed me the baby, and I gave her a hug and asked if all was OK. I asked if she was fearful of another person, she said no, but he could not be involved, and her children appeared well cared for.”
As an example of Jaccard’s dedication, here’s a sample workweek:
Prior to his retirement, he worked the noon to midnight shift so he could do the volunteer work during his free time. He’d usually spend at least another 50 hours a week with the AMT Children of Hope/Baby Safe Haven program. Most days he’d go from one event to another, serving as the keynote speaker, an advocate, or the central force in putting together a fundraiser.
“The most difficult thing is raising money for the Foundation, for education, for signs, for printed material,” says Jaccard.
He would spend a Sunday morning attending three separate events: a health fair in Brooklyn, another in Massapequa and as a keynote speaker for an event in Ronkonkoma—then he’d go to work Sunday night. On Monday, his day off, he’d head to New York City to host a staff conference at Beth Israel Hospital, come back and talk with three birth mothers that the group was working with. One was in New Jersey, another Upstate, and another on Long Island. He had to deal with issues such as their rent and baby care. One birthmother needed two beds for her other children. He got them shipped to New Jersey, caught a nap, then went back to work on Tuesday night. Tuesday morning he boarded an 8:30 a.m. train into Manhattan for a meeting and was home in time for a 4 p.m. lecture at the Knights of Columbus in Deer Park.
“Then I kissed my wife and told her I loved her,” he says, as he rushed again out the door to work on details regarding an air show, a poker run and an outing at the Garden City Country Club.
Wednesday he met with two vendors to talk about the details regarding soda for the air show, then to the bank for other necessary paperwork. At noon, he headed to Paterson, N.J., and while en route, had a crisis with a birth mother. He had to stop and wire money to her before going on to a meeting with a social worker and a 6:30 p.m. banquet. Then it was a meeting with the Bethany Christian Adoption Service.
This has been the way Jaccard has lived since he first began his quest. He says he’s lucky he has an understanding wife Aedan, who also volunteers as the RN coordinator for Safe Haven.
“[The program] is taking my life completely,” says Jaccard. “My wife says it is my mistress.”
And it’s been an uphill battle for Jaccard from the beginning.
When The Angels Sing
Jaccard’s first attempts after the grim discovery of Baby Angelica back in 1997 were to try to get local legislators and politicians to support a Baby Bill, which would provide a place where mothers could leave unwanted newborns. He got nowhere. Then, he testified before the U.S. Senate and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, where he met Texas Congresswoman Jeannie Morrison and Mobile, Ala., District Attorney John Tyson.
Texas was the first state to come onboard with what it called the “Baby Moses Bill,” signed by then-Gov. George W. Bush after he personally met with Jaccard to go over his proposed legislation. According to Jaccard, Bush was the only governor who was, at that time, willing to tackle the problem head-on. The bill became law in 1999.
Jaccard then traveled to every single state to lend guidance, give support and serve as an advisor on the passage of similar legislation across the country.
One of the first hospitals to become part of the Safe Haven program in New York after its bill’s passage in 2000 was Winthrop University Hospital in Mineola, according to John Broder, vice president of external affairs and development.
“The program is terrific,” he says. “It is a motivation for saving lives. We saw it as something that is part of and complements the mission of the hospital, which is to save lives. It is a natural alliance between two organizations.”
Recently, ambulances became part of the official drop-off sites.
“By law they are extensions of a hospital, and as an extension, it allows a birth mother to call and have the ambulance pick up the newborn infant and have the medical staff transfer the baby to the hospital,” explains Jaccard, adding, “There are 3,900 ambulances in 31 states that now have the logo and are aiding in the prevention of newborn infant deaths.”
Victor Fusco, a labor attorney and founding partner in Woodbury-based Fusco, Brandenstein & Rada, P.C., has been providing pro-bono legal counsel for Jaccard from the beginning of his quest.
He is but one of a vast support network of generosity Jaccard draws upon, from 12 members of the New York and Chicago Mercantile Exchange—known as the “Dirty Dozen” or “The 12 Apostles,” says Jaccard, who provide financial resources—to former and current law enforcement, health care providers, OBGYN doctors, clinics, attorneys and real estate brokers; all provide services, free of charge.
“I have watched him put his life on the line time and time again,” says Fusco. “[Jaccard] has risked jail and confronted state lawmakers all over the country.