Finding yourself unexpectedly pregnant or having a baby that was not planned can be incredibly scary. “Safe Haven Laws” have been implemented in some states to allow an anonymous option for a mother to give up an infant in a way that is both safe for the child and without criminal repercussions for the mother. If you would like to talk with someone confidentially about the Safe Haven option in Wisconsin you can text or call Care Net Milwaukee to learn more.
What are Safe Haven Laws?
Safe Haven Laws are laws that protect mothers who are in times of crisis after the birth of a child. These laws allow a mother to give up her baby indefinitely by leaving it with certain approved individuals.
Safe Haven Laws provide an adoption alternative for mothers who feel that they may not be able to raise a child at this moment in their lives and need a solution quickly. Safe Haven Laws do not apply in all states.
How Does Safe Haven Work?
Under Wisconsin law, Safe Haven allows a mother to leave their newborn with any of the below approved individuals:
- A police officer
- A hospital staff member
- Any 911 emergency medical staff
Once dropped off with one of the above individuals, you will not be required to provide your name or identifying information, unless you’d like to.
Are there any requirements for Safe Haven Laws?
When dropping off a baby, Wisconsin law requires the child to be:
- Under 72 hours old
- Unharmed, and
- Brought by a parent who is not being forced to give up their child
As long as these requirements are met, and you are in the state of Wisconsin or another state in which the safe haven laws are the same, then you may take advantage of Safe Haven Laws.
Will I be responsible for my child after using Safe Haven Laws?
No, after dropping the child off, your responsibility is transferred to the individual whom you leave the child with. This individual will protect the child, give the child to an intake worker, assist in filing a birth certificate, and begin the process of helping the child to get placed with an approved adoptive family.
Will I need to leave any contact info?
No, there is no contact information required to take advantage of Safe Haven. Wisconsin state law states, “No person may induce or coerce or attempt to induce or coerce a parent or person assisting a parent who wishes to remain anonymous into revealing his or her identity,” 1
What will happen to my baby?
Once dropped off, the child will temporarily be under the protection of the person it is left with. “The safe haven provider is required to accept emergency protective custody of the infant and provide any immediate medical care that the infant may require.”2 After the baby is found to be medically ready, the process will begin to place the baby with a family that is pre-approved for adoption who will take over in caring for the baby indefinitely.
What happens if I change my mind?
If you change your mind, and decide you would like to raise your child, you will need to contact the County Human or Social Services Department. Since there is no longer a link between you and the baby after the child is surrendered, a DNA sample will have to be submitted and Child Protective Services will work with you to determine whether the child can be placed back in your care.
Safe Haven Laws are a great opportunity to preserve the life of a child. These laws allow a mother the peace of mind in being able to leave her child with a trusted guardian who will assist in finding a long-term family for the baby, during a difficult time where she does not feel capable of doing so herself.
For more information on Safe Haven Laws, or to find requirements for locations outside of Wisconsin visit this website: https://www.nationalsafehavenalliance.org/find-a-safe-haven. You can also call or text Care Net Milwaukee to learn more about this option for your pregnancy.
Infant safe haven laws – child welfare information gateway. (n.d.).
Safe haven for newborns information. Safe Haven for Newborns Information | Wisconsin
Department of Children and Families. (n.d.).
Wisconsin legislature: Chapter 48. (n.d.).