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Home > Practice Areas > Baby Abandonment > Other Links and Resources

 
 

List of Enacted State Safe Haven Legislation

CWLA Summary for Delaware

Which babies may be relinquished?
  • Child not more than 14 days old.
  • Child must be alive, unharmed, and in a safe place.
Who may relinquish a baby?
  • Person:
    • Voluntarily delivers the unharmed baby directly to an employee or volunteer at a safe haven.
What are the incentives for a person to relinquish a baby at a Safe Haven?
  • Anonymity:
    • Hospital shall not inquire as to the identity of the relinquisher. If the identity of the person is known, the hospital shall keep the identity confidential.
    • If the person who surrendered the child wishes to remain anonymous, the Division shall not conduct an investigation to identify that person unless there is good cause to suspect abuse or neglect.
  • Protection from Liability:
    • Defense to prosecution.
Who can accept a relinquished baby?
  • Employee or volunteer of the emergency department of a hospital.
What are the responsibilities of a Safe Haven?
  • Take temporary emergency protective custody.
  • Not inquire as to identity of the person leaving the child.
  • Make reasonable efforts to obtain medical history information or attempt to provide the person with a postage-paid medical history information questionnaire (developed by the Department of Health and Human Services).
    • Since medical information about the child and parents is critical for the adoptive parents, every effort should be made to obtain that medical information and provide counseling information to the parents.
  • Attempt to provide the relinquisher with materials from the Department of Health and Human Services:
    • Information about the Safe Arms program;
    • Information about adoption and counseling services, including information that confidential adoption services are available and information about the benefits of engaging in a regular, voluntary adoption process;
    • Brochures with telephone numbers for public or private agencies that provide counseling or adoption services.
  • Attempt to provide the person leaving the child with:
    • The number of the child's identification bracelet to aid in linking the person to the child at a later date, if reunification is sought.
  • Immediately notify the Division and the State Police.
Is the Safe Haven protected from liability for its actions?
  • Yes: Immune from civil, criminal, and administrative liability for acts in connection with the acceptance of the child.
Rights of the Relinquishing Parent
  • Provide Information to Relinquisher:
    • Safe haven will attempt to provide the relinquisher with:
      • Information about the Safe Arms program;
      • Information about adoption and counseling services;
      • Brochures with telephone numbers for public or private agencies that provide counseling or adoption services.
  • Procedure to Reclaim Custody:
    • Safe haven shall attempt to provide the person leaving the child with:
      • The number of the child's identification bracelet to aid in linking the person to the child at a later date, if reunification is sought.
    • If a person possesses an identification number linking the person to a child who has been surrendered, and parental rights have not been terminated, possession of the ID number gives the person standing to participate in an action.
      • Possession of an ID number does not create a presumption of maternity, paternity, or custody
    • Abandonment shall be final 30 days after such abandonment and will allow termination of parental rights to proceed.
Children's Rights
  • Medical Information:
    • Make reasonable efforts to obtain medical history information or attempt to provide the person with a postage-paid medical history information questionnaire.
      • Since medical information about the child and parents is critical for the adoptive parents, every effort should be made to obtain that medical information and provide counseling information to the parents.
Care for the Child/Placement for Adoption
  • State shall reimburse the hospital for eligible, medically necessary costs related to temporary emergency protective custody of an abandoned child.
  • Division shall obtain exparte custody within four hours of notification.
  • State Police shall submit an inquiry to the Delaware Missing Children Information Clearinghouse.
  • Division shall notify the community that a child has been abandoned and taken into temporary emergency protective custody by publishing notice in a newspaper of statewide circulation:
    • At least 3 times over a 3-week period immediately following the surrender of the child;
    • Contain the place, date and time where the child was surrendered, the child's sex, race, approximate age, identifying marks, and any other information necessary for the baby's identification;
    • State that after 30 days the abandonment constitutes a termination of all parental rights of the person who abandoned the child and a waiver of any notice of a TPR hearing.
  • If the person who surrendered the child wishes to remain anonymous, the Division shall not conduct an investigation to identify that person unless there is good cause to suspect abuse or neglect.
  • Abandonment shall be final 30 days after such abandonment and will be:
    • The relinquisher's irrevocable consent to the termination of parental rights;
    • The relinquisher's irrevocable waiver of any right to notice of or opportunity to participate in any termination of parental rights proceeding involving the child, unless the relinquisher has expressed an intent to exercise parental rights within 30 days of the relinquishment.
Fathers' Rights
  • Division shall notify the community that a child has been abandoned and taken into temporary emergency protective custody by publishing notice in a newspaper of statewide circulation.
Efficacy of Safe Havens - Public Information Campaigns
  • Department of Health and Social Services shall establish public information programs to promote:
    • Safe placement alternatives for babies
    • The confidentiality offered to birth parents
    • Information regarding adoption procedures
  • Campaign shall include a 24-hour, toll-free hotline.
Long-Term Solutions
  • Repeal Date: 5 years after enactment
Notes
  • Amends Titles 11, 13, and 16 of the Delaware Code.
  • Purpose of the law is not to circumvent the responsible action of parents who use the current process for placing a baby for adoption. Purpose is to prevent the unnecessary risk of harm to or death of a baby by desperate parents who would otherwise abandon or cause the death of that baby.
  • If this law does not result in the safe placement of babies or is abused by parents attempting to circumvent the current process of adoption, it should be repealed.



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