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What Happens to Safe Haven or Abandoned Babies?

If you're going through an unplanned pregnancy, you know how fast it can turn your life upside down. Adoption can help you take charge of your life again. Get help with the adoption process by calling 1-800-ADOPTION now.

You are likely experiencing many different thoughts and emotions, and are being faced with one of the toughest decisions of your life. You may feel as if you’re up against impossible circumstances, which may even lead you to consider abandoning your baby. You might have these thoughts because you may:  

  • Not have proper documentation to live in the United States and fear being deported  

  • Be living with a mental illness or facing postpartum depression  

  • Be afraid of the baby’s father or what her loved ones will say   

If you are desperate for help and see no other option but to abandon your baby you are likely wondering what happens to abandoned babies after they’re found?    

This guide will explain what happens to safe haven babies and abandoned babies, as well as explore other options if you are faced with this difficult decision.  

If you’re a woman in this familiar situation, looking for help, our adoption professionals would be more than happy to talk with you. You can call 1-800-ADOPTION at any time to speak to a professional who understands how you’re feeling and can offer nonjudgmental help. Likewise, you can also fill out our free information form to get more information about your options for your specific situation.  

Until then, continue reading this guide to learn more.  

What Happens to an Abandoned American Baby?  

First, it’s important to understand that there are really only three ways a baby can be “surrendered”:  

  • A prospective birth mother can work with an adoption agency to make an adoption plan for her baby. Rather than “surrendering,” “abandoning” or “giving up” her baby, choosing adoption is a loving, proactive decision a woman makes to plan the best possible future for her baby.  

  • Thanks to Safe Haven laws, women also have the option to safely, legally, and anonymously leave their baby, unharmed, at a safe haven location — like a hospital, fire station, or a church.   

  • Finally, some women, feeling completely overwhelmed and being unaware of the first two options, will take drastic measures, abandoning their baby in unsafe conditions like in the example above.  

The way a baby is surrendered will affect what happens afterward. For example, you might have read the story of baby India, an infant left abandoned and found by Georgia’s first responders. Thankfully, she was found in time to be rescued. But, sadly, some are not so lucky.  

Indeed, many babies who are abandoned in an unsafe location often have tragic outcomes when help comes too late. Countless stories focused on this particular situation have been around for many years, and each one is just as heartbreaking as the last.  

The lesson is clear: A baby should never be abandoned. 

But what about those cases where it’s not too late? Where do abandoned babies go when they are found? Do babies who are abandoned end up in foster care?   

Normally, yes. Babies that are found safely after they’ve been abandoned or surrendered to a safe haven location typically become a ward of the state, like baby India, until they can be adopted. There are also instances in which the Department of Child and Family Services will contact a private adoption agency directly. But like most things in adoption, it really depends on each state’s systems.  

What Happens to Safe Surrender Babies 

Surrendering your baby is not an easy decision to make. But, when you need to find somewhere to take them quickly and safely, it can easily feel like the only option. Even so, it’s hard to choose this option without wondering, “What happens to babies abandoned at the hospital (or another Safe Haven location) after I leave?”  

If you’ve found yourself in this situation, here is what you should know about what happens to Safe Surrender babies 

  1. Before you do anything else, one of the best places to start is by reaching out to an adoption agency, like American Adoptions, for more information. We know that you’re worried about reaching out for help, but if you’re looking for information on what happens to a safe haven baby it can be helpful to talk to an adoption specialist. Not only that, but talk to someone who can offer free, unbiased support can be more helpful than you might realize. And if you choose to, they can even walk you through the process of making an adoption plan for your baby. You will be in charge every step of the way, and you might even rest easier knowing that you’ve hand-picked the perfect family for them –– ensuring that they will have a safe, stable home.  

  1. If you decide not to contact an adoption agency, then you’ll need to find an approved Safe Haven location near you. Depending on your state’s laws, this could be done through a baby box, a hospital, a fire station, a police station, or a church.  

  1. As for where do Safe Haven babies go next, they will typically be taken to get checked out by a doctor and, if necessary, be given any medical care. Afterward, your state’s social services department will be contacted. Once this happens, your baby will normally be placed into foster care and will become a ward of the state. But there are some situations in which a private adoption agency will be contacted.  

This sums up the process. As long as you follow your state’s guidelines for surrendering a baby, you will not face any legal charges. So, you won’t have to worry about what happens to you when you surrender a baby as long as you have followed the necessary steps.  

You might also be wondering, “Who adopts babies that were abandoned under Safe Haven?” People who adopt babies that were surrendered to a safe haven location come from all kinds of backgrounds. But it’s unlikely that you will find out who specifically ends up adopting your baby in the end, unlike in an adoption. Because of this, it may be helpful to also consider your other options.  

Safe Haven Surrender: Why Adoption is Your Best Alternative  

Oftentimes, women wondering what happens to babies who are abandoned don’t realize what other choices they have in their time a crisis. No matter what you’re going through, we want you to know adoption is always an option — no matter what your circumstances are. Whether...  

  • You’ve used drugs in the past or you’re currently using them  

  • The birth father is unsupportive, or you’re worried about his reaction  

  • Your family is unsupportive  

  • You want to keep your adoption secret  

  • You are worried about your citizenship status  

  • And more  

With over 30 years of experience as one of the largest national domestic adoption agencies, American Adoptions has seen and helped thousands of birth mothers, some in situations like yours, successfully place their baby for adoption.    

Our goal is to make the adoption process as easy and stress-free as possible. By putting your needs first, we help you create an adoption plan and put you in complete control of the adoption process. If you decide to work with American Adoptions, you’ll also be able to:  

  • Safely keep your adoption plan a secret  

  • Stay in touch with your child and your adoptive parents through open adoption, if you choose to  

  • Complete the adoption process as quickly as you need; American Adoptions works with hundreds of waiting families who will be ready to travel to you at a moment’s notice  

  • And so much more  

Probably the biggest advantage of adoption is that you won’t have to worry about who takes care of abandoned babies because you can handpick the perfect family yourself. You can rest easier knowing that your child will grow up safe, loved, and cherished after they’re placed directly in the arms of a loving family. You’ll also have many more choices throughout the process than you would if you were planning on surrendering them to a safe haven location.  

Your Next Steps  

If you are a woman who’s afraid of what to do next, abandoning your baby really can feel like your only option. We are here to reassure you, there are better options for you and your baby. Before you make any decisions, we strongly suggest you speak to a professional to learn more about alternatives to abandoning your baby.  

We know that you’re in a difficult spot right now. But no matter what kind of situation you’re in, please remember we are here to help. To speak with one of our professionals, please give us a call at 1-800-ADOPTION or fill out this form to get more information today. 

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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