NC’s Safe Surrender Law
North Carolina’s Safe Surrender law, properly called the “Infant Homicide Prevention Law,” allows new parents in crisis to leave their up to 7 day old infant with a responsible adult, legally and anonymously.
Why does NC have this law?
Infants’ risk of homicide on the first day of life is 10 times greater than during any other time of life. Every year, several babies are either killed or left to die in North Carolina by a parent who is scared or alone or in crisis. These parents often feel they have no other choice. The law offers parents a way to surrender their newborn safely and anonymously.
Is Safe Surrender the same as Safe Haven?
Many states have what are called Safe Haven laws. These laws designate places where a baby may be surrendered. North Carolina’s law is unique in that it designates people, not places.
Who can parents surrender their infant to?
The law states that a baby may be surrendered to “any responsible adult.”
The best options for a Safe Surrender contact include:
- a health care provider
- a law enforcement officer
- a social services worker
- emergency medical personnel
- a trusted, responsible adult who understands the best interests of the child
However, “any responsible adult” means just about anyone who is willing to take care of the child and ensure his or her safety.
What happens to these babies?
Anyone who receives the baby is required to keep it safe and warm, and to call 911 or the local department of social services right away. They should also know that the surrendering parent is not required to give any identifying information.
The goal is to have the baby adopted into a safe and loving home as quickly as possible.
What if a woman surrenders an infant without telling the father?
Any man who hears of a surrendered infant and believes it may be his should come forward as soon as possible.
Has the law worked?
No official numbers exist, but since the law was enacted in 2001, at least two newborns have been highlighted in the media as having been safely surrendered. However, at the same time, a number of newborns have also been abandoned unsafely or killed.
What can I do to help?
Public awareness is crucial to help parents know this option exists, and also to alert the public that receiving a surrendered newborn is legal. Help us spread the word about the law. by copying and distributing fact sheets
Visit the NC Department of Health and Human Services Safe Surrender page for more information, including links to fliers, the original legislation, and other information.