Infant Safe Haven Laws - Delaware

Date:

Infant's Age

Citation: Ann. Code Tit. 16, §§ 902; 907A

A baby may be relinquished to a safe haven provider. 'Baby' shall mean a child not more than 14 days old, except that for hospitals and their employees and volunteers, 'baby' shall mean a child reasonably believed to be no more than 14 days old.

Who May Relinquish the Infant

Citation: Ann. Code Tit. 16, § 907A

A person may voluntarily surrender a baby.

Who May Receive the Infant

Citation: Ann. Code Tit. 16, § 907A

A baby may be surrendered directly to an employee or volunteer of the emergency department of a Delaware hospital inside of the emergency department provided that said baby is surrendered alive, unharmed, and in a safe place therein.

Responsibilities of the Safe Haven Provider

Citation: Ann. Code Tit. 16, § 907A

A Delaware hospital shall be authorized to take temporary emergency protective custody of the baby who is surrendered pursuant to this section. The hospital shall either make reasonable efforts to directly obtain pertinent medical history information pertaining to the baby and the baby's family or attempt to provide the person with a postage-paid medical history information questionnaire.

The hospital shall attempt to provide the person leaving the baby with the following:

  • Information about the Safe Arms program
  • Information about adoption and counseling services, including information that confidential adoption services are available and information about the benefits of engaging in a regular, voluntary adoption process
  • Brochures with telephone numbers for public or private agencies that provide counseling or adoption services

The hospital shall attempt to provide the person surrendering the baby with the number of the baby's identification bracelet to aid in linking the person to the baby at a later date, if reunification is sought. Such an identification number is an identification aid only and does not permit the person possessing the identification number to take custody of the baby on demand.

If a person possesses an identification number linking the person to a baby surrendered at a hospital and parental rights have not already been terminated, possession of the identification number creates a presumption that the person has standing to participate in an action. Possession of the identification number does not create a presumption of maternity, paternity, or custody.

Immunity for the Provider

Citation: Ann. Code Tit. 16, § 908(b)

A hospital, hospital employee, or hospital volunteer who accepts temporary emergency protective custody of a baby is absolutely immune from civil and administrative liability for any act of commission or omission in connection with the acceptance of that temporary emergency protective custody or the provision of care for the baby when left at the hospital while said baby is in the hospital's temporary emergency protective custody, except for negligence or intentional acts.

Protection for Relinquishing Parent

Citation: Ann. Code Tit. 16, § 907A; Tit. 11, § 1102A

The person who surrenders the baby shall not be required to provide any information pertaining to his or her identity, nor shall the hospital inquire as to the same. If the identity of the person is known to the hospital, the hospital shall keep the identity confidential.

When the person who surrenders a baby manifests a desire to remain anonymous, the division shall neither initiate nor conduct an investigation to determine the identity of such person, and no court shall order such an investigation unless there is good cause to suspect child abuse or neglect other than the act of surrendering such baby.

In any prosecution for an offense of abandoning or endangering a child, it is a defense if the person surrendered care or custody of a baby directly to an employee or volunteer of a hospital emergency department inside of the emergency department provided that said baby is surrendered alive, unharmed, and in a safe place therein.

Effect on Parental Rights

Citation: Ann. Code Tit. 16, § 907A

Any hospital taking a baby into temporary emergency protective custody shall immediately notify the division and the State police of its actions. The division shall obtain ex parte custody and physically appear at the hospital within 4 hours of notification unless there are exigent circumstances. Immediately after being notified of the surrender, the State police shall submit an inquiry to the Delaware Missing Children Information Clearinghouse.

The division shall notify the community that a baby has been abandoned and taken into temporary emergency protective custody by publishing notice to that effect in a newspaper of statewide circulation. The notice must be published at least three times over a 3-week period immediately following the surrender of the baby unless the division has relinquished custody. The notice, at a minimum, shall contain the place, date, and time where the baby was surrendered; the baby's sex, race, approximate age, identifying marks, and any other information the division deems necessary for the baby's identification; and a statement that such abandonment shall include the following:

  • The surrendering person's irrevocable consent to the termination of all parental rights, if any, of such person on the ground of abandonment
  • The surrendering person's irrevocable waiver of any right to notice of, or opportunity to participate in, any termination of parental rights proceeding involving such child, unless such surrendering person manifests an intent to exercise parental rights and responsibilities within 30 days of such abandonment