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

 
 

List of Enacted State Safe Haven Legislation

CWLA Summary for Tennessee

Which babies may be relinquished?
  • Child must be less than 72 hours old and unharmed.
Who may relinquish a baby?
  • Mother:
    • Voluntarily delivers the child to an employee at a safe haven.
    • Does not express an intent to return for the child.
    • Does not visit or seek contact with the child for 30 days.
What are the incentives for a person to relinquish a baby at a Safe Haven?
  • Protection from Liability:
    • No criminal prosecution shall be based on a relinquishment if the mother acts in full compliance with the law.
Who can accept a relinquished baby?
  • Employee or member of the professional medical community at:
    • Hospital
    • Birthing center
    • Community health clinic
    • Out-patient "walk-in" clinic
What are the responsibilities of a Safe Haven?
  • Receive the child.
  • If possible, inquire about the medical history and identity of the mother, child, or father.
    • Inform the mother that she is not required to respond, but the information will facilitate the child's adoption.
    • All information is confidential.
  • May provide the mother with contact information for the relevant social service agencies.
  • Provide the mother with the name, address and phone number of the department contact person.
  • Encourage the mother to involve the Department of Children's Services in the relinquishment of the child.
  • If practicable, provide the mother with oral and written information concerning the requirements of this law.
  • Perform any act necessary to protect the health or safety of the child.
  • Contact the Department of Children's Services no later than 24 hours after receiving the child, but not before the mother leaves the hospital.
Is the Safe Haven protected from liability for its actions?
  • Yes: Immune from criminal or civil liability for actions taken in accordance with this law.
Rights of the Relinquishing Parent
  • Provide Information to Relinquisher:
    • Safe haven:
      • May provide the mother with contact information for the relevant social service agencies.
      • Shall provide the mother with the name, address and phone number of the department contact person.
      • Shall encourage the mother to involve the Department of Children's Services in the relinquishment of the child.
      • If practicable, provide the mother with oral and written information concerning the requirements of this law.
  • Procedure to Reclaim Custody:
    • Department of Children's Services will give notice once a week for 4 weeks in a newspaper or publication of general circulation in the county in which the child was relinquished. Notice will include information to provide an opportunity for the father to claim paternity and for the mother to revoke her voluntary delivery.
    • A mother who voluntarily delivers a child may revoke the voluntary delivery by applying to the court no later than 30 days after notice was completed.
    • After this period, no voluntary relinquishment shall be set aside except upon clear and convincing evidence of duress, fraud, or intentional misrepresentation.
Children's Rights
  • Medical Information:
    • If possible, safe haven shall inquire about the medical history of the mother, child, or father.
      • Inform the mother that she is not required to respond, but the information will facilitate the child's adoption.
      • All information is confidential.
  • Identifying Information:
    • If possible, safe haven shall inquire about the identity of the mother, child, or father.
      • Inform the mother that she is not required to respond, but the information will facilitate the child's adoption.
      • All information is confidential.
Care for the Child/Placement for Adoption
  • Department of Children's Services shall immediately assume care, custody and control of the child and petition the court for legal custody of the child.
  • Within 10 days of receiving the child, give notice once a week for 4 weeks in a newspaper or publication of general circulation in the county in which the child was relinquished. Notice will include:
    • Information to provide an opportunity for the father to claim paternity and for the mother to revoke her voluntary delivery.
    • Describe the child.
    • Identify where and when voluntary delivery occurred.
    • Specify how and who to contact for follow up.
    • Specify that failure to seek contact with the child or to revoke the voluntary delivery within 30 days of the last publication of notice constitutes abandonment.
    • Specify that any father who fails to claim paternity within 30 days of the last publication shall be barred from bringing any action to establish his paternity.
  • Failure of the mother to visit or seek contact with the child within 30 days after notice was completed shall be the basis for termination of parental rights.
Fathers' Rights
  • Publish Notice:
    • Within 10 days of receiving the child, give notice once a week for 4 weeks in a newspaper or publication of general circulation in the county in which the child was relinquished. Notice will include:
      • Information to provide an opportunity for the father to claim paternity and for the mother to revoke her voluntary delivery
      • Describe the child
      • Identify where and when voluntary delivery occurred
      • Specify how and who to contact for follow up
      • Specify that failure to seek contact with the child or to revoke the voluntary delivery within 30 days of the last publication of notice constitutes abandonment
      • Specify that any father who fails to claim paternity within 30 days of the last publication shall be barred from bringing any action to establish his paternity.
Efficacy of Safe Havens - Public Information Campaigns
  • Department of Children's Services and Department of Health shall encourage and support community programs to raise public awareness of the incidents of infant abandonment and to provide information and intervention services for parents of unwanted children.
Notes
  • Amends Tennessee Code Annotated, Section 34-11-102, Titles 36 and 36; and Section 63-6-218, Title 68.



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