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Where Can You Safely Surrender a Baby?

If you are facing an unplanned pregnancy, or have recently given birth and are feeling overwhelmed about parenting, we understand the stressful, emotional situation you are in. This difficult time may leave you feeling like you are running out of options, and that there is nobody who can help.  

We want to reassure you that you are not alone. 

You may be questioning how to abandon a baby safely and legally? Maybe you’re:  

  • A teenager who is afraid of her family and friends finding out about her situation  
  • In an unstable situation where she is battling addiction or homelessness  
  • Facing postpartum depression or another mental health issue  
  • In a difficult relationship with the baby’s father and doesn’t want him to find out  
  • Afraid of getting “in trouble” for your citizenship status, substance use, or other challenges  

If you are wondering “where can I abandon a baby” we need to make it clear that you should never leave an unwanted baby in unsafe conditions. Before you make any plans, you should know that adoption is always an option for you and your child and is a better, safer choice than having to resort to abandonment.   

This guide will explore your options to safely surrendering your baby, as well as the alternatives you have available.  

Whatever your specific situation may be, if you’re a woman who’s thinking about surrendering a baby, we want you to know that help is available and we’re here to listen. To speak with an adoption professional, please call 1-800-ADOPTION today or fill out our free information form to get more information. Until then, continue reading to learn more.  

Private Adoption: Your Best Alternative to Surrendering a Baby  

No matter what kind of situation you’re in, how old your baby is, or how far along you are in your pregnancy, an adoption is always an option. It is never too late to make an adoption plan, and begin the journey of finding a loving family for your baby. When you make an adoption plan, it puts you in the driver's seat of every step of your adoption process.  

With over 30 years of experience as one of the nation’s largest national adoption agencies, American Adoptions has helped parents in similar situations as yours find adoptive families for their baby. Adoption provides you and your baby with opportunities that surrendering your baby cannot.   

Adoption gives you the opportunity to:  

  • Receive adoption financial assistance for housing, medical costs and more 
  • Hand-pick the perfect family for your baby through adoptive family profiles  
  • Plan the hospital stay (if you haven’t already delivered)  
  • Decide on the relationship you want with the adoptive family and your baby after placement occurs. This allows you to remain involved in your child’s life if you so choose.  
  • Remain anonymous and private throughout your adoption.  
  • And more  

By choosing American Adoptions to be by your side throughout your adoption process, you will also gain access to numerous helpful services — 24/7 adoption counseling and support, legal representation, financial assistance, scholarship opportunities and so much more. The level of support we can provide is unmatched by other agencies and is a key component to a happy and successful adoption.   

We understand this is a lot to think about, but we are here to help. Contact us at 1-800-ADOPTION to speak with an adoption professional. They will be more than happy to explain the options you have available, and to give you a better understanding of the life-changing benefits adoption can offer you and your baby.   

Frequently Asked Questions about Surrendering a Baby  

If you’re considering abandoning a baby or surrendering a baby for adoption through a safe haven program, you’ll probably still have a lot of questions about what your options are. Below, we’ve answered some things that you should know if you’re looking for safe haven sites to surrender baby, safe places to leave a baby, and more.  

What Does it Mean to Surrender a Baby?  

Safely surrendering a baby means relinquishing care for them in a safe, legal way when you are not able to care for them. While child abandonment is illegal in the United States, women who decide bring their babies to a safe haven site to surrender a baby are protected under Baby Moses laws. This means that, as long as a woman plans on leaving a baby at a safe place and follows all of her state’s laws for legally surrendering a baby, she cannot be prosecuted for child abandonment and neglect.  

The specifics of these Safe Haven laws will depend on where you live. Each state has determined:  

  • Where you can surrender a baby: In states, a mother can only bring her baby to a hospital, fire station, or police office. In others, she’ll also be able to bring them to other emergency locations, like a church.  
  • Who can surrender a baby: Some states only allow the mother to surrender her baby to a safe haven location. In others, it can be either parent. And in others, an agent acting on behalf of the parent can surrender the baby if they have the parent’s approval.  
  • How old the baby can be: Some states require the baby to be 72 hours old or younger. Others allow you to surrender a baby up to 30 days old.  

To learn more about which Safe Haven laws apply in your state, please check out childwelfare.gov. It is also advisable to contact a family law attorney before taking any action.  

Where Can You Leave an Unwanted Baby?  

There are safe haven locations where you can surrender your baby without abandoning them.  

The safe haven locations you can use to safely surrender your baby vary depending on your state. In many states, places you can leave a baby are:  

  • Hospital  
  • Fire station  
  • Police station  

If you are thinking about surrendering your baby, please make sure to take them to one of these locations to an on-duty staff member. If you take them anywhere else that is not protected under Safe Haven laws, you can face criminal charges for child abandonment and neglect.  

You can also call 1-800-ADOPTION now to speak with an adoption specialist. In both cases, your baby will end up in the loving care of an adoptive family. But, with adoption, you will receive immediate support from our agency and be able to pick the family you think will be best for your baby.  

I abandoned my baby to a safe haven location. Can I get them back?  

Depending on your state’s laws, it may be possible to get your baby back after surrendering them to a safe haven location. But, how long you’ll have to change your mind and get your baby back will depend on the state you live in 

If you choose to do so, the first thing you’ll need to do is file a petition with the circuit court after relinquishment. After that, you’ll need to undergo a mandatory maternity or paternity test ordered by the court. The Department of Children and Family Services will also conduct a child protective investigation and home study. If 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.   

What Information is Needed to Surrender a Baby 

Surrendering a baby can be done anonymously, but in some cases, you will be asked to provide some information when taking them to a safe haven baby surrender site. But you may be asked to provide some medical history about yourself and your baby, just to make things a little bit easier for the hospital or another safe haven location. Once the staff member has everything they need, you are free to leave without having to reveal your name.   

Can You Leave a Baby at an Orphanage 

No, you are not able to drop your baby off at an orphanage. In fact, orphanages as we used to know them, or like you’ve probably seen in the TV shows and movies, don’t really exist anymore in the United States. Instead, each state has designated safe haven locations. Depending on where you live, you can either take them to a fire station, police station, hospital, church, or baby.  

Do People Really Leave Babies on Doorsteps 

Once again, the answer to this question is no. We know that a lot of people have seen this scene play out on movies and TV shows. But that just isn’t how adoptions or safe havens locations actually work. In reality, leaving a child at a doorstep, or even at a safe haven location unattended, can be considered child abandonment and you can face legal charges. Unless you live in a state that has Safe Haven Baby Drop Boxes, like Ohio or Arkansas, you must place them with an on-duty staff member at an approved safe haven location.  

Understanding your options can help you make sense of your situation. If you have any more questions about where you can surrender your baby, the adoption process, or about parenting in general, call us any time, at 1-800-ADOPTION. You can also get more information when you fill out our free information form to get started. 

Disclaimer
Information available through these links is the sole property of the companies and organizations listed therein. America Adoptions, Inc. 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.

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