It's a law: the New Jersey Safe Haven Infant Protection Act. Under this law a person may give up an unwanted infant anonymously. As long as the baby has not been abused, the person may do so without fear of arrest or prosecution.
What is Safe Haven?
Why does New Jersey do this?
The purpose of Safe Haven is to protect unwanted babies from being hurt or killed from unsafe abondonment.
Abandoning a baby puts the infant in extreme danger. Too often it results in the baby's death. It is also illegal, with severe consequences. But with Safe haven, this tragedy doesn't ever have to happen again in New Jersey.
How does it work?
A distressed parent who is unable to care for an infant can give up custody of a baby less than 30 days old safely, legally and anonymously. All that is required is that the baby be brought to any hospital emergency room, police station, fire station, ambulance, first aid, and rescue squads in New Jersey that are staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week. As long as the child shows no signs of intentional abuse, no name or other information is required.
Can only a parent bring in the baby?
No. The parent may choose to have someone else bring in the infant. It can be a family member, a friend, a clergy member, a social worker - practically anyone.
Do you have to call before bringing in the baby?
No. You can walk in anytime.
Can you help a parent decide where to bring the baby?
Yes. The parent can call the Safe Haven Hotline - 1-877-839-2339 - and get the address and directions for any hospital emergency room, police station, fire station, ambulance, first aid, and rescue squad in the state.
Does a parent have to tell anything to the people taking the baby?
No. Nothing is required. However, personnel from any hospital emergency room, police station, fire station, ambulance, first aid or rescue squad will record any infomation that a parent is willing to share, such as the child's health, race, date of birth, place of birth or medical history of the parents. This could be very useful in caring for the child. These questions can be answered anonymously on a medical questionnaire that is available.
What happens if a woman voluntarily provides her personal identifying information to hospital staff while delivering her baby at the hospital or being admitted?
If a woman voluntarily provides her personal identifying information to hospital staff while delivering her baby or being admitted, her anonymity will no longer be protected under the New Jersey Safe Haven Law and the State will have the mandate to search for and contact the infant's father and/or relatives.
What happens to the mother when she drops off a baby?
If the mother brings in the baby, she will be offered medical treatment and social services. She can, of course, refuse if she wishes. Once she has safely turned over the baby, she is free to go. She can complete an anonymous medical questionnaire and drop it in any mailbox.
What happens to the baby once the baby is dropped off?
The child will be examined and given medical treatment, if needed. Then DCF's Child Protection and Permanency, CP&P will immediately take custody and place the child in a foster or pre-adoptive home. After 21 days, CP&P will proceed with the permanent adoption of the baby. There are always many families available who want to adopt an infant.
What happens if the mother, or a relative, wishes to regain custody of a baby?
If the mother, or a relative, wishes to regain custody of the baby they should contact the Safe Have Hotline at 1-877-839-2339 so that they can begin the process towards a safe reunification.