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What Are Baby Moses Laws?

Because an unplanned pregnancy can be such a challenging time, you may be desperately looking for answers. We can help. Call 1-800-ADOPTION now. 

If you:

  • Have recently given birth and feel overwhelmed with parenting,
  • Aren't in a position financially to support your baby,
  • Or are questioning if you want your baby, you’re probably scared and unsure of what to do next.

You might even be asking, “Is it illegal to abandon a baby?” 

The answer to that is yes. In the United States, it is a crime to abandon a baby. However, there is a big difference between abandoning a baby and safely surrendering them to a Safe Haven location. Women who surrender their babies to a Safe Haven location are legally protected by something called Baby Moses laws, which are also known as Baby Safe Haven laws.  

But, what exactly are they? And how can they protect you and your baby? 

That’s what this guide is here to answer. To learn more about the Baby Moses law and the history related to it, keep reading below.

If you have any questions about your options while you’re reading, please don’t forget that you can reach out to us at 1-800-ADOPTION or fill out our free information form to get more information and be contacted by an adoption professional immediately. 

Private Adoption Process: What You Should Know 

Before we begin to discuss Safe Haven locations, we need to bring up an option many birth mothers tend to overlook during an unplanned pregnancy and even more so after birth: private adoption.  

American Adoptions understands the position you are in. With over 30 years of experience as one of the nation’s largest national adoption agencies, with a staff made up of birth mothers, adoptees and adoptive families, we can truly relate to the emotions and thoughts you are experiencing. 

Take our adoption professional, Michelle. At a young age, she too was facing a difficult decision, much like you.

“I am very confident in my decision to place my son with his adoptive family and have had an unbelievably positive experience.” Michelle said of her adoption experience. With many women concerned they will regret or second-guess their adoption decision, it’s nice to hear a birth mothers point of view who has experienced adoption.

You can read Michelle’s adoption story here. And you can also speak with her directly to learn more of what she went through, and how it may relate to your situation.   

The Benefits of Choosing Adoption vs. Baby Moses Laws 

There are many benefits that come from choosing adoption.

  • For starters, unlike a Safe Haven age limit, your baby does not need to be a certain age to be placed for adoption.

  • No matter if your child is a few days, months, or years old, adoption is always an option.

  • For many women, adoption has become the best decision they could have made.  

Adoption is also a great option for you and your baby because it puts you in complete control of the desired outcome. From the moment you decide to pursue an adoption, you are in charge of determining the details of your adoption plan. When you do decide to make an adoption plan for your baby, then you’ll be able to choose: 

In addition, when you choose adoption with American Adoptions, you’ll also receive services such as: 

  • 24/7 counseling and support services:  No matter when you have questions, or just need to talk to someone, you will always have an adoptive professional ready to help 365 days a year, 24 hours a day.  

  • Financial assistance: Adoption is always free for birth mothers. You also may be eligible to receive financial assistance to help cover medical bills, living expenses and more. Your assistance will vary depending upon your specific situation, but your adoption professional will be able to explain this process. 

  • Your own adoption attorney: Having a trusted adoption attorney by your side throughout your adoption journey will help ensure all steps are being completed legally and ethically. American Adoptions helps pair you with legal representation so you don’t have to add the stress and frustration of searching on your own. 

  • Confidentiality: Your decision is a private and personal choice. Because of this, you can keep your plans for adoption confidential, and you don’t need to worry about anyone sharing your information. 

  • Numerous other benefits 

We understand you are going through so much, and have some difficult decisions to make. We are here to help. Call 1-800-ADOPTION any time to discuss your options, and to get valuable information from a trained professional. An unplanned pregnancy can seem like a lot to handle, but with the right professional by your side, you can find the best option for you and your baby. 

Baby Moses Law History 

Every year, countless women around the world face the realities of an unplanned pregnancy. While some find that they’re in a place to parent, or choose another option for their unplanned pregnancy, there are others who feel that they have no choice left but to abandon their babies. Because of these situations, abandoned baby law was created. 

To help save the lives of these infants in the United States, Texas became the first state to enact a Baby Moses law in 1999. Since then, every state has followed suit. Now, it is possible for a woman to safely relinquish her baby anonymously and without the fear of prosecution for child abandonment and neglect. 

What Does the Baby Safe Haven Law Say? 

Each state’s baby surrender law tends to vary a bit when it comes to the specifics of: 

  • Which locations a baby can be surrendered to: In some states, a baby can only be surrendered to a hospital, fire station or police office. Some states allow churches to take in the newborn. Before you decide to relinquish care, please make sure to take a look at laws where you can leave your baby. 

  • Who can surrender the baby: There are some states that only allow the mother to surrender her baby to a Safe Haven. In others, it can be either parent. And in 11 states, an agent acting on behalf of the parent can surrender the baby if they have the parent’s approval. So, before you ask someone other than yourself to surrender your baby for you, make sure that they’re able to do so in your state. 

  • How old the baby can be: There are several states, like Alabama for instance, in which the baby Safe Haven age limit is for infants 72 hours old or younger. Others are a little bit more lenient and their Baby Moses Law age limit allows a baby up to 30 days old to be surrendered. 

If you’re thinking of surrendering your baby to a Safe Haven location, it’s a good idea to first become familiar with the laws in your state. Knowing if a baby can be surrendered safely, and by what time, is important.  A handy list of each state’s baby surrender laws can be found at You can also give them a call at 1-800-394-3366, use their live chat, or send them an email at 

Or, because laws can be difficult to understand and you don’t want to accidentally take a wrong step, you can call 1-800-ADOPTION to speak with a specialist.  

Can You Get Your Baby Back after Safe Haven? 

Depending on your state’s laws, yes, the Baby Moses law may state that you can get your baby back. But how many days you’ll have to change your mind will really depend on where you live. 

If you do decide to change your mind and get your baby back, then you’ll need to file a petition with the circuit court. If you choose to file it, you will have to undergo a mandatory maternity or paternity test. The Department of Children and Family Services will also have to conduct a child protective investigation and a home study. Once the time limit has passed, and if a petition was never filed, the process of terminating parental rights will begin for the legal adoption process to proceed.  

If you’d like to learn more about what it’s like to make an adoption plan or to ask questions about the laws where you can leave your baby, or how you can abandon a baby legally, then we’d be happy to answer your questions.

Remember, although times may seem difficult right now, help is only a call away. To speak with an adoption specialist today, please call 1-800-ADOPTION or fill out our free information form to get in touch with an adoption professional. 


Information available through these links is the sole property of the companies and organizations listed therein. American Adoptions provides this information as a courtesy and is in no way responsible for its content or accuracy.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Why is American Adoptions the right adoption agency choice for many birth mothers?

American Adoptions is one of the largest licensed adoption agencies in the United States. Each year, we work with thousands of women who are facing an unplanned pregnancy and offer assistance to these women. Our large, caring staff is able to assist you seven days a week and provide you with one-on-one counseling about your pregnancy and available options.

You should choose an adoption agency where you feel completely comfortable with their services and staff. With American Adoptions, you will work with an Adoption Specialist who is on-call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The Adoption Specialist will be your advocate and will provide support and guidance as you create an adoption plan that is right for you.

How will the family tell my child about me and the adoption when my child is older?

Each family has their own style of introducing adoption to the child. When you are matched with an adoptive family, you can ask them this question. If you would like your Adoption Specialist to discuss it for you, just let her know. He or she can share your wishes or provide good ideas from other adoptive families.

You will also be able to share what you want your baby to know about you. You can complete a keepsake booklet to share hobbies, stories, photos of you and your family and a letter to your baby. The adoptive family can provide this to your child as he or she grows older. Be as creative as you like! Some birth mothers have even knitted a special blanket as a gift to their baby or given a similar symbol of their love.

The father of your baby can fill out the birth father's keepsake booklet or write a letter too. You may have other family members who would also like to share photos or a letter to the baby. This is your opportunity to pass on your and your family's love and to share your personality, history and reasons for choosing adoption. The adoptive family will treasure whatever information you provide and will share it with the baby at an appropriate age. In most adoptive homes, the word adoption is in the child's vocabulary early on, and adoption is celebrated in their lives.

Additional Resources

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