Frequently Asked Questions
What if I need help?
If you are in a crisis right now, and need immediate help, call toll free, 1-888-510-BABY (1-888-510-2229). Because laws vary from state-to-state, the person who answers will ask what state you are calling from and then discuss your options. You can also learn where the nearest hospital is, and what will happen when you turn in your baby.
How does the Colorado Safe Haven law work?
A parent may hand over an infant, up to 72 hours old, to personnel at any fire station or hospital. The process is anonymous. So long as the baby is unharmed, the parent will not be prosecuted for child abuse or abandonment.
Where can a parent relinquish the baby?
A baby can be handed over at any fire station or hospital.
Can a parent just leave the baby?
No, for safety of the child, the baby must be given to a person at one of these locations, face-to-face.
Does a parent have to call before bringing in the baby?
No. A parent can walk in anytime, to any fire station or hospital, so long as there are staff present to receive the child.
Does a parent have to answer any questions?
No. Nothing is required. However, information the parent is willing to share, such as the child’s health, race, date of birth, place of birth, or the medical history of the parents, could be very useful in caring for the child.
What happens to the baby?
The hospital will provide any needed care. They will contact social services who will take custody of the baby and place it with a family who has been preapproved for adoption. There is a legal process through which the parental rights are terminated. This takes several months. Then the adoption is made final.
Will the authorities be called?
As long as the baby is unharmed, and 72 hours old or younger, the authorities will not be called.
What if a parent changes his or her mind and wants the baby back?
It is rare, it takes several months before the parents’ rights are legally terminated. Up until that time, either parent may contact social services in the county where the baby was turned over. When parenthood is established, and social services determines that the person can be a fit parent, the baby is returned.
If the newborn is injured or harmed, but a parent chooses to use the program, could they be turned away or face prosecution?
No baby is ever turned away. However, the Safe Haven law only directly protects a parent from prosecution if the baby is unharmed.
What is the penalty in Colorado for a parent who kills his or her baby or abandons the baby and it dies?
A person who knowingly causes the death of a child can be charged with first degree murder. The sentence could be life in prison, or even death.
About the Safe Haven Law
Why do we have Safe Haven laws?
The purpose of a Safe Haven law is to protect unwanted babies from being hurt or killed because they were abandoned, and to provide parents with a safe and legal alternative to abandoning an unwanted newborn.
What are the provisions of Colorado’s Safe Haven law?
In Colorado, a parent may hand over an infant, up to 72 hours old, to personnel at any fire station or hospital. The process is anonymous. So long as the baby is unharmed, the parent will not be prosecuted for child abuse or abandonment.
Why 72 hours?
The first hours of a newborn’s life are the most vulnerable. If a mother has hidden her pregnancy, where is she hiding her baby? It is crucial that the baby be taken to a safe place as soon after birth as possible.
When did Colorado enact the Safe Haven law?
The Colorado Safe Haven law was passed in 2000.
How many states have Safe Haven laws?
All 50 states now have Safe Haven laws.
Does it work?
Absolutely! Newborn babies have been safely relinquished at hospitals and fire stations rather than abandoned at dangerous places. Mothers and fathers have been helped through the 24/7 hotline. If you look at FBI statistics for murder of infants under 1 year of age, the number was increasing every year, until 1999, when the first Safe Place Law was passed. Since then, there has been a constant decline.
Wouldn’t it be better to address the problem of unwanted pregnancy earlier?
Obviously the Safe Haven law and awareness efforts are not the final answers to the societal problems contributing to the cause of infant abandonment, but they provide a compassionate approach to saving the lives of innocent babies. This law provides a positive outcome for all involved: a child's life is saved; a parent is saved from a lifetime of guilt, and imprisonment; the hopes of a family waiting to adopt a child are fulfilled.
About Infant Abandonment
What is known about mothers who abandon their infants?
The most common age for a mother who abandons her baby is 19. But there are recorded incidents involving mothers from 13 - 42 years of age.
Generally, these mothers did not have a history of drug abuse or criminal behavior.
The problem is not concentrated in any economic or racial category. It crosses all socio-economic groups. The next incident could happen to your neighbor, friend, or daughter.
These mothers usually have denied their pregnancies and isolated themselves from friends and family. When the baby is born, find themselves in crisis. This is when they commit an unthinkable crime.
The mothers who committed these crimes did not know about their safe alternative under the Safe Haven law.
What is known about infanticide and infant abandonment?
More than 100 newborn children are murdered or abandoned and left to die in the United States every year.
Experts believe that for all the abandoned babies that are found, at least twice as many are not found.
A person is 10 times more likely to be murdered in the first 24 hours of their life, than on any other day of their lives.
In states where the Safe Haven law is actively promoted, there are fewer babies dying from abandonment than in states that do not have Safe Haven organizations.