What Does Safe Haven Mean?
What are Safe Haven Laws?
Safe Haven Laws give mothers a responsible and safe alternative to abandoning their child. It provides a legal and anonymous way for parents to leave the baby in someone else’s care.
No cops. No parents. No cost.
“In approximately 12 States and Puerto Rico, infants who are 72 hours old or younger may be relinquished to a designated safe haven.2 Approximately 19 States accept infants up to 1 month old.3 Other States specify varying age limits in their statutes.”
How do Safe Haven Laws protect mothers and babies?
If you are a mother who finds herself in a desperate situation any may be trying to conceal the birth of your baby, please don’t panic. Safe Haven Laws allow you to anonymously bring a newborn baby to a Safe Haven location (like a hospital or police station in most cases) without worrying about being charged for a crime.
“Safe Haven Legislation addresses two important issues: it significantly reduces the risk that a newborn will be abandoned in a perilous environment that may result in death and it protects the parents who feel they have no option other than abandonment, but who compassionately deliver their newborn to a safe haven.” – AMT Child of Hope Foundation
In most states, there is a guarantee of anonymity for those mothers that leave their baby in a safe haven location. In other states, the safe haven provider cannot ask for any identifying information, unless you choose to provide it. Additionally, 34 states will not prosecute a parent for leaving their child at a safe haven location, however, if there is evidence of child abuse, the privileges of anonymity are surrendered. Contact 1-877-796-HOPE for more information about your state’s safe haven laws.
What are the responsibilities of the Safe Haven Providers?
A safe haven provider must accept any infants left with them and provide medical care, immediately if necessary. Some safe haven providers will take the infant to hospital as soon as possible. Safe haven providers will also contact the child welfare department in that area to inform them of the child’s relinquishment. Your state safe haven provider may ask for medical history from you, if allowed by law. The safe haven provider, in nearly all states, is protected by a liability if anything should happen to the infant while in their care, except in extreme instances of carelessness.
What are the consequences of relinquishment?
The local child welfare department will have custody of the infant as soon as the safe haven provider has informed them. Child welfare will be responsible for placing the infant, usually in a home that is hoping to adopt. Following the placement, the welfare department will seek termination of the birth parents’ rights. Some states are required to check the putative father registry before terminating rights.
How can I find a Safe Haven location for my baby?
To find a safe place to deliver your child, please call the anonymous hotline: 1-877-796-HOPE
All calls are confidential.
It’s important to know that Safe Haven Laws can vary slightly from state to state.