Under Safe Haven laws, abandoned newborn babies who show no signs of harm become wards of the state when they are dropped off at designated Safe Haven areas. From those areas, babies are moved into foster homes, and adoptions are facilitated. Newborns abandoned using other methods, such as leaving a child in a public restroom or a dumpster, often end up fatally harmed.
Safe Haven laws allow a new mother to relinquish custody of a newborn child up to 30 days old without being charged for child abandonment or endangerment. The baby must be handed over to a designated Safe Haven area. These areas differ from state to state, but typically include hospitals, police stations and fire stations. A full list of Safe Haven areas is available on Safe Haven's website.
In most states, Safe Haven laws allow the surrendering parent to remain anonymous, as long as there is no physical harm done to the child. The parent's identity is protected during court and adoption proceedings by using only a numbered bracelet as identification. Some states consider Safe Haven surrenders as child abandonment and file a complaint through the juvenile court system to bring the parent to trial. The parent has the option of answering the complaint and formally giving up her parental rights in court or ignoring it and having her rights automatically terminated.