by National Safe Haven Alliance
First, what is Safe Baby Haven? Safe Haven laws exist in every state, these laws allow a mother or parent to anonymously surrender an unharmed infant to a designated Safe Baby Haven provider. Hospitals and hospital staff are designated providers in every state in the U.S. Other locations may include fire stations, police stations, pregnancy resource centers, and churches. Locations and age limits are dependent upon state specific law.
Infant abandonment is far too common in this country. Over 25 babies were illegally abandoned in the U.S. in 2021, and half of these infants did not survive, according to unofficial statistics recorded by the National Safe Haven Alliance (NSHA).
NSHA offers a unique communication model that is utilized on the 24/7 crisis hotline. The details of this model include offering support for a parent in crisis that may need resources. This assists them in choosing to parent their baby, temporary placement so that a parent does not feel rushed in making a decision, adoption support that is coordinated by the team, and Safe Haven as a safe and legal option.
Pregnancy resource centers are in a special position with women and parents in crisis pregnancy circumstances, offering comprehensive resources for parenting and even adoption. Safe Baby Haven resources are another safe alternative for a parent that may be unwilling or unable to care for their infant. Safe Baby Haven is a last resort but may be a lifesaving option for their baby.
A mother called the NSHA hotline requesting Safe Baby Haven direction from an eastern state. This mother said she was 35 weeks pregnant and while living with her parents had kept her pregnancy hidden. She did not know what to do next and was in need of support, someone to talk to and safe options. The NSHA crisis team provided these things to her. Within a week after the initial call this mother reached out saying she was bleeding and asked what to do next. The crisis responder directed the mother to the nearest hospital emergency room so that she could be cared for by medical staff. The mom was soon rushed into surgery for an emergency c-section and during the mother’s recovery and with the help from NSHA staff, she explained to her nurse and hospital social worker that she wanted to surrender her baby girl using the Safe Haven law. She felt this was the best option for her baby at this time and received the support and care from each person during this traumatic time. The baby was safely surrendered and the mother received ongoing support and kindness from the NSHA team. These partnerships are vital to how we approach parental support, resources that are available, and by connecting to these resources a parent may see the love, care and kindness in this connection regardless of the choice they make.
There is often one opportunity to reach a pregnant woman or parent in crisis, and by offering all safe alternatives upon their visit, including providing a Safe Baby Haven brochure in their packet empowers a parent to make an educated decision regarding their pregnancy.
This education saves lives. A mother and father that reached out through the NSHA hotline explained that they had recently scheduled a late term abortion. The parents were unable to parent the baby and had made this decision late in the pregnancy. The baby girl had other plans. She decided she was coming before that scheduled appointment and made her way into the world at home. Her parents were shocked and panicked, with no idea what to do next they called the NSHA hotline. The staff were able to offer all of the options and support available to them. The parents of this baby girl chose to take her to a nearby hospital and safely surrender her using the Safe Haven law. They felt they were unable to parent and had hidden the pregnancy once they found out which had been at 6 months along. This baby was given a chance at life and was placed with a family that was ready and praying for a precious gift.
National Safe Haven Alliance operates a 24/7 hotline for a parent in crisis or for Safe Haven providers that need assistance or direction. The three part communication model is utilized by the response team and includes the following: parenting and temporary placement, adoption options and Safe Baby Haven.
The NSHA crisis response team will never abandon a mother, father or parent and leave them without options. Whether a newborn or even an older child that a parent feels unable to care for, our staff will work to provide safe options for the parent and child.
As the National Safe Haven Alliance offers training for hospitals, emergency medical personnel, adoption agencies, state agencies, pregnancy resource centers and more, we are creating partnerships nationwide. More lives will be impacted. The goal is to provide holistic support and care for a parent and baby, providing an end to infant abandonment.
Want to know more? Listen to Pregnancy Help Podcast's most recent episode, Understanding the Safe Haven Option, with Heather Burner, Executive Director of the National Safe Haven Alliance, and Nafisa Kennedy, Director of Option Line.