Infant Safe Haven Laws - North Dakota

Date:

Infant's Age

Citation: Cent. Code § 50-25.1-15

An 'abandoned infant' is an infant who has been abandoned at birth at a hospital or before reaching age 1 year regardless of the location of birth and who has been left at an approved location in an unharmed condition.

Who May Relinquish the Infant

Citation: Cent. Code § 50-25.1-15

The infant may be left by the parent or an agent of the parent with the parent's consent.

Who May Receive the Infant

Citation: Cent. Code § 50-25.1-15; Admin. Code § 75-03-19.2-03

The child may be left with an on-duty staff member at an approved location. The term 'approved location' means a hospital or other location as designated by administrative rule adopted by the Department of Health and Human Services.

In regulation: Approved locations for relinquishing an infant with an on-duty staff member is limited to the following physical locations as well as the offsite location of on-duty staff members of the following:

  • Local public health units
  • Human services zones
  • Regional human services centers
  • Long-term care nursing facilities
  • Children's advocacy centers
  • Emergency medical services operations
  • Criminal justice agencies

Responsibilities of the Safe Haven Provider

Citation: Cent. Code § 50-25.1-15

An approved location shall accept an infant abandoned or left under this section. The approved location may request information regarding the parents and shall provide the parent or the agent with a medical history form and an envelope with the approved location's return address. If a hospital accepting the infant has the infant's medical history, the hospital is not required to provide the parent or the agent with a medical history form. Neither the parent nor the agent is required to provide any information.

If an infant is left at a hospital, the hospital shall provide the parent or the agent with a numbered identification bracelet to link the parent or the agent to the abandoned infant unless, due to birth of the infant, the infant and parent currently have an identification bracelet. Possession of an identification bracelet does not entitle the bracelet holder to take custody of the abandoned infant on demand.

The approved location may provide the parent or the agent with any relevant information, including the following:

  • Information about the safe place for abandoned infant programs
  • Information about adoption and counseling services
  • Information about whom to contact if reunification is sought

Within 24 hours of receiving an abandoned infant, the approved location shall report to the department that an abandoned infant has been left at the approved location. The report may not be made before the parent or the agent leaves the approved location.

Immunity for the Provider

Citation: Cent. Code § 50-25.1-15

The approved location and its employees and agents are immune from any criminal or civil liability for accepting an abandoned infant under this section.

Protection for Relinquishing Parent

Citation: Cent. Code § 50-25.1-15

Neither the parent nor the parent's agent is subject to prosecution for abuse, neglect, or abandonment for leaving an abandoned infant.

Neither the parent nor the parent's agent is required to provide any information. An individual who contacts the department about the child is under no obligation to respond to a request for information, and the department may not attempt to a compel response or to investigate the identity or background of the individual.

Effect on Parental Rights

Citation: Cent. Code § 50-25.1-15

Upon receiving a report of an abandoned infant, the department shall proceed as required under this chapter if it appears that the abandoned infant was not harmed, except the department may not attempt to identify or contact the parent or the agent. If it appears the abandoned infant was harmed, the department shall initiate an assessment of the matter as required by law.

If an individual possesses a bracelet linking the individual to an abandoned infant and parental rights have not been terminated, possession of the bracelet creates a presumption that the individual has standing to participate in a protection services action. Possession of the bracelet does not create a presumption of maternity, paternity, or custody.

If an individual claiming to be the parent or the agent contacts the department and requests to be reunited with the abandoned infant, the department may identify or contact the individual. If an individual contacts the department seeking information only, the department may attempt to obtain information regarding the identity and medical history of the parents and may provide information regarding the procedures in an abandoned infant case.