Infant Safe Haven Laws - Illinois

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Infant's Age

Citation: Comp. Stat. Ch. 325, § 2/10

A newborn infant may be relinquished under this act. The term 'newborn infant' means a child who a licensed physician reasonably believes is 30 days old or younger at the time the child is initially relinquished and who is not an abused or a neglected child.

Who May Relinquish the Infant

Citation: Comp. Stat. Ch. 325, § 2/10

The term 'relinquish' means to bring a newborn infant to a designated facility and to leave the infant with personnel of the facility if the person leaving the infant does not express an intent to return for the infant or states that he or she will not return for the infant.

In the case of a mother who gives birth to an infant in a hospital, the mother's act of leaving that newborn infant at the hospital without expressing an intent to return for the infant or stating that she will not return for the infant is not a relinquishment under this act.

Who May Receive the Infant

Citation: Comp. Stat. Ch. 325, § 2/10

A newborn infant may be relinquished to a hospital; police station, including a municipal police station, a county sheriff's office, a campus police department located on any college or university, or any of the district headquarters of the Illinois State Police; fire station; or emergency medical facility.

Responsibilities of the Safe Haven Provider

Citation: Comp. Stat. Ch. 325, §§ 2/20; 2/25; 2/40

If there is suspected child abuse or neglect that is not based solely on the newborn infant's relinquishment, personnel who are mandated reporters must report the abuse or neglect.

Every hospital must accept and provide all necessary emergency care to a relinquished infant, including tests that evaluate whether the infant was abused or neglected.

If the infant is relinquished to a police station, fire station, or emergency medical facility, the personnel must arrange for the transportation of the infant to the nearest hospital as soon as possible. If the parent returns to reclaim the child within 72 hours, he or she must be informed of the name and location of the hospital to which the infant was transported.

Before the relinquishing person leaves the hospital, police station, fire station, or emergency medical facility, the personnel shall do the following:

  • Verbally inform the relinquishing person that by relinquishing the child anonymously, he or she will have to petition the court if he or she desires to prevent the termination of parental rights and regain custody of the child
  • Offer the relinquishing person the information packet described in § 2/35

Within 12 hours after accepting a newborn infant, a hospital must report to the State Central Registry for the purpose of transferring physical custody of the infant from the hospital to either a child-placing agency or the Department of Children and Family Services.

Within 24 hours after receiving a report, the department must request assistance from law enforcement officials to investigate the matter using the National Crime Information Center to ensure that the relinquished newborn infant is not a missing child.

If a relinquished child is not a newborn infant as defined in this act, the hospital and the department must proceed as if the child is an abused or neglected child.

Immunity for the Provider

Citation: Comp. Stat. Ch. 325, § 2/27

A hospital, police station, fire station, or emergency medical facility and any personnel of a hospital, police station, fire station, or emergency medical facility are immune from criminal or civil liability for acting in good faith in accordance with this act. Nothing in this act limits liability for negligence for care and medical treatment.

Protection for Relinquishing Parent

Citation: Comp. Stat. Ch. 325, §§ 2/25; 2/30

The act of relinquishing a newborn infant to a hospital, police station, fire station, or emergency medical facility in accordance with this act does not, by itself, constitute a basis for a finding of abuse, neglect, or abandonment of the infant pursuant to the laws of this State nor does it, by itself, constitute a violation of §§ 720 ILCS 5/12C-5 (endangering the life or health of a child) or 720 ILCS 5/12C-10 (child abandonment) of the Criminal Code.

If there is suspected child abuse or neglect that is not based solely on the newborn infant's relinquishment, the personnel of the hospital, police station, fire station, or emergency medical facility who are mandated reporters must report the abuse or neglect.

Neither a child protective investigation nor a criminal investigation may be initiated solely because a newborn infant is relinquished pursuant to this act.

If there is no evidence of abuse or neglect of a relinquished newborn infant, the relinquishing person has the right to remain anonymous and to leave the hospital, police station, fire station, or emergency medical facility at any time and not be pursued or followed. However, nothing in this act shall be construed as precluding the relinquishing person from providing his or her identity or completing the application forms for the Illinois Adoption Registry and Medical Information Exchange and requesting that the hospital, police station, fire station, or emergency medical facility forward those forms to the Illinois Adoption Registry and Medical information Exchange.

Effect on Parental Rights

Citation: Comp. Stat. Ch. 325, §§ 2/15; 2/50; 2/55

There is a presumption that by relinquishing a newborn infant in accordance with this act, the infant's parent consents to the termination of his or her parental rights with respect to the infant.

Upon notice from the department that a newborn infant has been relinquished, a child-placing agency must accept the infant if the agency has the accommodations to do so. When possible, the child-placing agency must place a relinquished infant in a prospective adoptive home.

The department or child-placing agency must initiate proceedings to terminate the parental rights of the relinquished infant's known or unknown parents, appoint a guardian for the infant, and obtain consent to the infant's adoption no sooner than 60 days following the date of the initial relinquishment of the infant. Before filing the petition, the department or child-placing agency must search its Putative Father Registry for the purpose of determining the identity and location of the putative father in order to provide notice.

A parent of a relinquished infant may petition for the return of the infant before the termination of parental rights. The court may hold the proceeding for the termination of parental rights in abeyance up to 60 days. During that period:

  • The court shall order genetic testing to establish maternity or paternity, or both.
  • The department shall conduct a child protective investigation and home study.

Failure to file a petition for the return of the infant before the termination of parental rights bars any future action of asserting legal rights to the infant unless the parent's act of relinquishment involved fraud perpetrated against the parent. No action to void or revoke the termination of parental rights of a parent of a relinquished infant, including an action based on fraud, may be commenced after 12 months after the date that the newborn infant was initially relinquished.