There is nothing more tragic than hearing a story about a baby being found abandoned in a dumpster. Feelings of desperation and hopelessness lead mothers to take a step so drastic. They feel alone and helpless. It is critical for any woman who finds herself in this frame of mind to know that there is a safe alternative: Safe Haven Baby Drop Off.
What Is Safe Haven Baby Drop Off?
Safe Haven laws allow a mother to surrender her baby anonymously at designated locations. The mother can surrender her baby safely without having to worry about being prosecuted for abandonment. These laws have been enacted in all 50 states.
Because the laws are enacted at the state level, each state has different parameters. Some states will accept infants only in the first three days of life. Others allow a month or longer. North Dakota has the most lenient time frame by allowing babies to be surrendered up to their first birthday.
All states designate hospitals as Safe Haven surrender locations. Some states also allow babies to be accepted at fire stations, police stations, emergency rooms, birthing centers, medical facilities and clinics, adoption agencies, child welfare or advocacy centers, and health departments. Several states have listed churches as Safe Haven locations. Some states allow EMS providers to accept infants, while others simply state a surrender can be to “any responsible adult.” The National Safe Haven Alliance (NSHA) is an organization with a website that has information for each state.
There is a link below to the NSHA website, but here is an interactive map featuring each state’s requirements and approved Safe Haven locations. Click on your state to learn more.
How Does Safe Haven Work?
The statistics demonstrate what a difference these laws have made. The first Safe Haven law was implemented in 1999, and since then, more than 4000 infants have been surrendered. During that same time span, NSHA reports that there were 1465 illegal abandonments, and 827 of those children were found deceased.
Bottom line? Safe Haven saves lives.
“Many states have a Safe Haven leader. For those that do not, National Safe Haven is working hard to raise awareness in those states. No ads are promoting it at this time, but I would love to see that happen,” Sarah Koeppen, Assistant Director of the National Safe Haven Alliance tells Parentology. “The more awareness there is in each state, the more mothers know what to do in a crisis, and then we can avoid abandonment from happening.”
The mother does not have to give a reason or any information when going to leave a child at a Safe Haven center. “The process is the same in every state when it comes to handing a baby over. You simply have to hand the child to a Safe Haven provider in each state.”
Four states have Safe Haven boxes — Indiana, Arizona, Arkansas, and Ohio. “A Baby Box is a safety device provided for under [a] state’s Safe Haven Law and legally permits a mother in crisis to safely, securely, and anonymously surrender if they are unable to care for their newborn,” the NSHA website states. “A Baby Box is installed in an exterior wall of a designated fire station or hospital. It has an exterior door that automatically locks upon placement of a newborn inside the Baby Box, and an interior door which allows a medical staff member to secure the surrendered newborn from inside the designated building.”
The decision to surrender a baby is never an easy one. But when a woman feels like she has run out of options, these laws give them a safe alternative.
Safe Haven Baby Drop Off — Important Links
National Safe Haven Alliance
24/7 Crisis Hotline: 1-888-510-BABY or text SAFEHAVEN to 313131