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

 
 

List of Enacted State Safe Haven Legislation

CWLA Summary for Illinois

Which babies may be relinquished?
  • "Newborn infant:" a child who a licensed physician reasonably believes is 72 hours old or less.
Who may relinquish a baby?
  • Parent:
    • does not express an intent to return for the child or expresses an intent not to return for the child.
    • Presumption that the relinquisher is the child's biological parent and intends to relinquish the child.
      • Parent may rebut this presumption at any time before the termination of the parent's parental rights.
  • If a mother gives birth to a child in the hospital, her act of leaving that child at the hospital without expressing an intent to return for the child is not a relinquishment under this Act.
What are the incentives for a person to relinquish a baby at a Safe Haven?
  • Anonymity:
    • If there is no evidence of abuse or neglect, the relinquishing person has the right to remain anonymous and leave the safe haven without being pursued.
  • Protection from Liability:
    • Act of relinquishing a child in accordance with this act does not violate the criminal code or constitute a basis for a finding of abuse, neglect or abandonment.
Who can accept a relinquished baby?
  • Personnel at a:
    • Fire Station
    • Hospital
    • Emergency Medical Facility
What are the responsibilities of a Safe Haven?
  • Take temporary protective custody of the child.
  • Accept and provide all necessary emergency services and care to a relinquished child.
    • Relinquishment serves as implied consent to provide care for the child.
  • Examine the child to determine whether he or she was abused or neglected.
    • If there is suspected abuse or neglect, must report the abuse or neglect.
  • Fire station or emergency medical facility must arrange for the transportation of the child to the nearest hospital as soon as possible.
    • If the parent returns to reclaim the child within 72 hours after relinquishing the child, fire station or emergency medical facility must inform parent of the hospital to which the child was transported.
  • If there is suspected abuse or neglect, must report the abuse or neglect.
  • Must inform the relinquishing person that by relinquishing the child anonymously, he or she will have to petition the court if he or she desires to prevent termination of parental rights and regain custody.
  • Must offer the relinquishing person an information packet including:
    • All Illinois Adoption Registry and Medical Information Exchange application forms, including the Medical Information Exchange Questionnaire and web site address and toll free phone number of the registry.
    • Written notice of the following:
      • Termination of parental rights and placement of the child for adoption will commence no sooner than 60 days after the relinquishment.
      • If the parent does not contact the Department and petition for the return of the child before parental rights are terminated, he or she is barred from any future action asserting rights to the child.
    • Information about counseling services, including pregnancy counseling, adoption counseling, and other available options for placement of a child.
  • Inform person that acceptance of the information is voluntary, registration with the Illinois Adoption Registry and Medical Information Exchange is voluntary, the person will remain anonymous if he or she completes a Denial of Information Exchange, and the person has the option to provide medical information only and still remain anonymous.
  • Must notify the Department of Child and Family Service's State Central Registry in order to transfer the child to a child-placing agency or the Department.
Is the Safe Haven protected from liability for its actions?
  • Yes: Immune from criminal or civil liability for acting in good faith in accordance with this Act.
Rights of the Relinquishing Parent
  • Provide Information to Relinquisher:
    • Safe haven must offer the relinquishing person an information packet including:
      • All Illinois Adoption Registry and Medical Information Exchange application forms, including the Medical Information Exchange Questionnaire and web site address and toll free phone number of the registry.
      • Written notice of the following:
        • TPR will commence no sooner than 60 days after the relinquishment.
        • If the parent does not contact the Department and petition for the return of the child before TPR, he or she is barred from any future action asserting rights to the child.
      • Information about counseling services, including pregnancy counseling, adoption counseling, and other available options for placement of a child.
    • Inform person that acceptance of the information is voluntary, registration with the Illinois Adoption Registry and Medical Information Exchange is voluntary, the person will remain anonymous if he or she completes a Denial of Information Exchange, and the person has the option to provide medical information only and still remain anonymous.
  • Procedure to Reclaim Custody:
    • Parent may petition for return of custody at any time before the parental rights are terminated. Court may hold the proceeding for the termination of parental rights in abeyance for a period not to exceed 60 days.
      • Court shall order genetic testing to establish maternity or paternity.
      • Department shall conduct a child protective investigation and home study
    • Failure to file a petition for the return of custody prior to TPR bars any future action asserting legal rights to the child unless the relinquishment involved fraud perpetrated against the parent.
    • No action to void or revoke the TPR may be commenced after 12 months after the child was relinquished, even in the case of fraud.
Children's Rights
  • Medical Information:
    • Safe haven must provide relinquisher with Medical Information Questionnaire. Must also inform relinquisher that completion of the questionnaire is voluntary.
  • Identifying Information:
Care for the Child/Placement for Adoption
  • Neither a child protective investigation nor a criminal investigation may be initiated solely because the child is relinquished.
  • If the child is not less than 72 hours old, proceed as if the child is an abused or neglected child.
  • Relinquished children shall be deemed eligible for medical assistance, and hospitals providing services shall be reimbursed.
  • Department must arrange for a licensed child-placing agency to accept physical custody of the child.
    • Department's State Central Registry must maintain a list of licensed child-placing agency willing to take custody of relinquished children.
    • Contact child-placing agencies on the list on a rotating basis.
  • If no licensed child-placing agency is able to accept the child, the Department must assume responsibility for the child.
  • Child-Placing Agency shall:
    • Accept the child if the agency has accommodations.
    • Seek an order for legal custody of the child.
    • Within 3 business days after assuming physical custody, file a petition alleging the child has been relinquished and the agency intends to place the child in an adoptive home.
    • Place the child in a prospective adoptive home.
  • Search the Putative Father Registry at least 30 days after the child's estimated date of birth. Must inform any potential putative father.
  • Verify with law enforcement officials that the child is not a missing child
  • Initiate proceedings to terminate the parental rights of the relinquished child's known or unknown parents, appoint a guardian, and obtain consent to the child's adoption no sooner than 60 days after the date of the relinquishment.
  • Child is available for adoption by virtue of relinquishment.
  • There is a presumption that by relinquishing a child in accordance with this Act, the parent consents to the termination of parental rights.
Fathers' Rights
  • Search Putative Father Registries:
    • Search the Putative Father Registry at least 30 days after the child's estimated date of birth. Must inform any potential putative father.
  • Publish Notice:
  • Conduct Reasonable Search:
Efficacy of Safe Havens - Public Information Campaigns
  • Department shall implement a public information program to inform the public of the following:
    • The safe haven program
    • The alternative of adoption through a public or private agency, in which parent's identity may or may not be known to the agency, but is kept anonymous from the adoptive parents, if the birth parent so desires.
  • Information campaign may include:
    • Educational and informational materials in print, audio, video, electronic, or other media
    • Establishment of a web site
    • Public service ads
    • Toll-free hotlines
Long-Term Solutions
  • Repeal Dates:
    • Law is repealed on July 1, 2007.
  • Collect Data on Relinquishment:
    • Department shall collect and analyze information regarding the relinquishment of children to evaluate the effects of this Act in the prevention of injury or death of newborn infants, including:
      • Number of children relinquished
      • Services provided to relinquished children
      • Outcome of care for the relinquished children
      • Number and disposition of cases of relinquished children subject to placement
      • Number of children accepted and served by child-placing agencies
      • Services provided by child-placing agencies
      • Disposition of the cases of the children placed under this Act
    • Submit a report by January 1, 2002, and on January 1 of each year thereafter, to the Governor and General Assembly, including:
      • Summary of collected data
      • Analysis of data and conclusions regarding the Act's effectiveness
      • Determination whether the purposes of the Act are being achieved
        • Recommendations for changes that may be necessary to improve the Act
Notes
  • Law acknowledges that establishing an adoption plan is preferable to relinquishing a child using this procedure, but to reduce the chance of injury to a newborn infant, this law provides a safer alternative.



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