Safe Haven

LEGISLATIVE SUMMARY OF ILLINOIS' ABANDONED NEWBORN INFANT PROTECTION ACT

The Abandoned Newborn Infant Protection Act allows a parent to anonymously relinquish her or his newborn infant to the care and custody of a safe haven. It provides a safe alternative to parents who may be under severe emotional distress or are unable to provide for the basic needs of an infant. The law provides immunity from prosecution for parents who relinquish their unharmed newborn to a safe haven under the terms of this law.

A "newborn" is defined as 30 days old or younger. "Relinquish" means leaving an infant with personnel of a hospital, emergency medical facility, staffed fire station, or police station (designated safe havens). This law states that a parent may relinquish an infant anonymously, and it provides procedures that the designated safe havens and government agencies must follow when a parent relinquishes an infant.

If a newborn infant is taken to a staffed fire or police station, personnel will examine the newborn infant and, if there is no sign of abuse or neglect, will transport the infant to the nearest hospital for further examination. If abuse is determined, the fire or police station personnel must inform law enforcement officials. The hospital is required to report the relinquishment of a newborn infant to the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) State Central Registry (1-800-252-2873) within 12 hours of acceptance of the infant.

The hospital will have temporary protective custody of the newborn infant. The newborn infant will be examined by an emergency room doctor and will receive medical treatment, if needed. As long as there is no abuse present, there will be no attempt made to locate the birth parent. Designated safe haven personnel must provide an information packet to the relinquishing parent containing information about the Illinois Adoption Registry and Medical Information Exchange, written notice of the process to terminate parental rights (which will take place no sooner than 60 days after the relinquishment), and a list of counselors. Hospital personnel must inform the relinquishing parent that they may complete the information packet voluntarily and anonymously.

Within 24 hours, DCFS must contact law enforcement officials to ensure that the relinquished newborn infant is not a missing child. DCFS will then contact a licensed adoption agency, which will seek an order for legal custody and take physical custody of the newborn infant. Within three days of assuming custody, the adoption agency shall file a petition in the circuit court stating that the newborn infant was relinquished and the agency intends to place the newborn infant in an adoptive home. The adoption agency will also file for termination of parental rights and appoint a guardian for the infant.