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I was sitting the lobby of the hospital pharmacy one day waiting for the pharmacy to open. I had not brought any reading material, so I started perusing the walls for entertainment. A sign on the glass door startled me when it advertised the hospital being a safe place to rescind custody of a baby. I wondered what it would be like to work in the hospital and without ado, a mother handing over her child to be taken care of by someone else. It made me wonder if there are other places an unwanted child can be legally given up.

In Washington State, there is Safe Haven law, which allows a mother to give up her baby, whoBabyCredit: Self may be no older than three days old, to the hospital or fire station. There are no questions asked and if the parent or guardian of the child does not return after a few months, they give up all legal parental rights and the child may be adopted.

The difference between giving a child to a Safe Haven and giving them to an adoption agency is a matter of contracts and paperwork. It is easier to reclaim a child left with a designated Safe Haven than an adoption agency where you sign a contract releasing your rights.
Giving up a baby to a Safe Haven location is anonymous, unless there are signs of abuse or neglect. Any responsible adult can bring in an unwanted baby, as long as they have permission from the mother. If a mother does not know where the Safe Haven locations are in her local state she can call the hotline 1-888-510-BABY.

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After the baby is dropped off it will be examined and treated medically if necessary. Child Protective Services will then be given custody, and they will determine an appropriate caregiver during the next few months.

Every state has a Baby Safe Haven provision to keep all children protected. We have all heard the tragic stories of abandoned infants in a dumpster and public lavatories. The mother may be young and afraid letting anyone know of her circumstances. Having a designated place to give up her baby lessens the chance of harm to the baby and the mother. When the baby is left with a Safe Haven agency, there is a US wide search to make sure that there is no one looking for aFamilyCredit: Deposit photo missing baby.

The benefit to giving a baby up for adoption is the potential to keep in contact with the child as it grows. There is even the potential to have visits if the adoptive parents are willing.

Thankfully, I never have had to worry about babies and will not have to for the foreseeable future. It’s good to know that each state has a system in place for women and girls to safely release custody of their child. If you know of someone who could benefit from this service, please tell them. What is the law in your state? Please leave a comment.