Infant Safe Haven Laws - Massachusetts

Date: September 2021

Infant's Age

Citation: Ann. Laws Ch. 119, § 39 1/2

Any newborn infant 7 days old or younger may be relinquished.

Who May Relinquish the Infant

Citation: Ann. Laws Ch. 119, § 39 1/2

The infant may be relinquished by his or her parent.

Who May Receive the Infant

Citation: Ann. Laws Ch. 119, § 39 1/2

The infant may be delivered to any 'designated facility,' including a hospital, police department, or manned fire station.

Responsibilities of the Safe Haven Provider

Citation: Ann. Laws Ch. 119, § 39 1/2

The designated facility receiving a newborn infant shall immediately notify the Department of Social Services. Upon receipt of such notice, the department shall take immediate custody of the newborn infant and shall initiate all actions authorized by law to achieve the safety and permanent placement of the newborn infant in a manner that is consistent with the best interests of the child.

The person accepting a newborn infant shall make every effort to solicit the following information from the parent relinquishing the newborn infant:

  • The name of the infant
  • The name and address of the parent placing the newborn infant
  • The location of the infant's birthplace
  • Information relative to the infant's medical history and his or her biological family's medical history, if available
  • Any other information that might reasonably assist the department or the court in current or future determinations of the best interests of the child, including whether the parent or guardian plans on returning to seek future custody of the child

The person receiving the newborn infant shall encourage the parent to provide the information, but the parent shall not be required to provide such information.

Immunity for the Provider

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

Protection for Relinquishing Parent

Citation: Ann. Laws Ch. 119, § 39 1/2

Voluntary abandonment of an infant to an appropriate person shall not by itself constitute either a finding of abuse or neglect or a violation of any criminal statute for child abuse or neglect or for abandonment. If child abuse or neglect that is not based solely on the newborn infant having been left with an appropriate person is suspected, hospital, police, or fire department personnel who are mandated reporters shall report the abuse or neglect.

The parent is not required to supply any of the information requested above.

Effect on Parental Rights

Citation: Ann. Laws Ch. 119, § 39 1/2

The Department of Social Services shall place the infant into foster care. Such a voluntary placement shall not constitute, in and of itself, an automatic termination of parental rights or an abrogation of the parental rights or responsibilities but shall, for purposes of authorizing the department to initiate a petition to terminate parental rights under chapter 210, be presumed to be an abandonment of the newborn infant that has been so placed.