Infant Safe Haven Laws - Missouri

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Infant's Age

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 210.950

A child who is no more than 45 days old may be relinquished.

Who May Relinquish the Infant

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 210.950

The child may be relinquished by his or her biological parent.

Who May Receive the Infant

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 210.950

The parent may relinquish the child by voluntarily delivering the child safely to a newborn safety incubator or to the physical custody of any of the following persons:

  • An employee, agent, or member of the staff of any hospital, maternity home, or pregnancy resource center in a health-care provider position, or on duty in a nonmedical paid or volunteer position
  • A firefighter or emergency medical technician on duty in a paid position or on duty in a volunteer position
  • A law enforcement officer

A 'newborn safety incubator' is a medical device used to maintain an optimal environment for the care of a newborn infant.

Responsibilities of the Safe Haven Provider

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 210.950

A safe haven provider shall, without a court order, take physical custody of a child the person reasonably believes to be no more than 45 days old and is delivered in accordance with this section by a person purporting to be the child's parent or is delivered to a newborn safety incubator. If delivery of a newborn is made in any place other than a hospital, the person taking physical custody of the child shall arrange for the immediate transportation of the child to the nearest hospital.

The hospital shall perform treatment in accordance with the prevailing standard of care as necessary to protect the physical health or safety of the child.

The hospital shall notify the Children's Division and the local juvenile officer upon receipt of a child. The local juvenile officer shall immediately begin protective custody proceedings and request the child be made a ward of the court during the child's stay in the medical facility. Upon discharge of the child from the medical facility and pursuant to a protective custody order ordering custody of the child to the division, the division shall take physical custody of the child.

Immunity for the Provider

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 210.950

A safe haven provider shall be immune from civil, criminal, and administrative liability for accepting physical custody of a child pursuant to this section if such persons accept custody in good faith. Such immunity shall not extend to any acts or omissions, including negligent or intentional acts or omissions, occurring after the acceptance of such child.

Protection for Relinquishing Parent

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 210.950

A parent voluntarily relinquishing a child shall not be required to provide any identifying information about the child or the parent. No person shall induce or coerce, or attempt to induce or coerce, a parent into revealing his or her identity. In addition, any person who obtains information on the relinquishing parent shall not disclose such information except to the following:

  • A birth parent who has waived anonymity or the child's adoptive parent
  • The staff of the Department of Health and Senior Services, the Department of Social Services, or any licensed agency that provides services to the child
  • A person performing juvenile court intake or dispositional services
  • The attending physician
  • The child's foster parent or any other person who has physical custody of the child
  • A juvenile court or other court of competent jurisdiction conducting proceedings relating to the child
  • The attorney representing the interests of the public in proceedings relating to the child
  • The attorney representing the interests of the child

A parent shall not be prosecuted for child abandonment or endangering the welfare of a child for actions related to the voluntary relinquishment of a child up to 45 days old if the following conditions are met:

  • Expressing intent not to return for the child, the parent voluntarily delivered the child safely to a newborn safety incubator or to the physical custody of any safe haven provider.
  • The child was no more than 45 days old when delivered by the parent to the newborn safety incubator or a safe haven provider.
  • The child had not been abused or neglected by the parent prior to such voluntary delivery.

Effect on Parental Rights

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 210.950

The parent's voluntary delivery of the child in accordance with this section shall constitute the parent's implied consent to any such act and a voluntary relinquishment of such parent's parental rights.

In any termination of parental rights proceeding initiated after the relinquishment of a child, the juvenile officer shall make public notice that a child has been relinquished, including the sex of the child and the date and location of such relinquishment. Within 30 days of such public notice, the parent wishing to establish parental rights shall identify himself or herself to the court and state his or her intentions regarding the child. The court shall initiate proceedings to establish paternity or, if no person identifies himself as the father within 30 days, maternity. The juvenile officer shall make examination of the putative father registry to determine whether attempts have previously been made to preserve parental rights to the child. If such attempts have been made, the juvenile officer shall make reasonable efforts to provide notice of the abandonment of the child to such putative father.

If one parent relinquishes custody of his or her child to a newborn safety incubator or a safe haven provider, the nonrelinquishing parent, to preserve his or her parental rights, must take the steps necessary to establish parentage within 30 days after public notice has been made of the child's relinquishment. If either parent fails to take steps to establish parentage within the 30-day period, either parent may have all his or her rights terminated with respect to the child.

When either parent inquires at a hospital regarding a child whose custody was relinquished pursuant to this section, such facility shall refer such parent to the division and the juvenile court exercising jurisdiction over the child.