The Safe Haven Law

The Safe Haven Law allows a parent to legally surrender a newborn baby to a fire station or hospital within 72 hours of birth.  Provided the baby is unharmed, there are no questions asked and it remains confidential. 

Our History

The Safe Haven Law has been in effect in Colorado since 2000.  In that time, 66 babies have been legally and safely relinquished as "Safe Haven Babies".  Nationwide, over 4,000 babies total. (Feb 2020)

Exact Verbiage of the Law

 If a parent is charged with permitting a child to be unreasonably placed in a situation that poses a threat of injury to the child's life or health . . . and the child was seventy-two hours old or younger at the time of the alleged offense, it shall be an affirmative defense to such charge that the parent safely, reasonably, and knowingly handed the child over to a firefighter. . . or to a hospital staff member who engages in the admission, care, or treatment of patients, when such firefighter is at a fire station or such hospital staff member is at a hospital.
Colorado Revised Statutes § 18-6-401(9) 

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How does the Safe Haven Law work?

​A parent may hand over an infant, up to 72 hours old, to personnel at any fire station or hospital. The process is anonymous. So long as the baby is unharmed, the parent will not be prosecuted for child abuse or abandonment. 

Can I just leave the baby?

No, for safety of the child, the baby must be given to a person at one of these locations, face-to-face. 

Will I be asked for my information when I surrender a baby?

No. Nothing is required. However, information the parent is willing to share, such as the child’s health, race, date of birth, place of birth, or the medical history of the parents, could be very useful in caring for the child. 

What happens to the baby?

 The hospital will provide any needed care. They will contact social services who will take custody of the baby and place it with a family who has been pre-approved for adoption. There is a legal process through which the parental rights are terminated. This takes several months. Then the adoption is made final. 

Will anyone call the police?

As long as the baby is unharmed, and 72 hours old or younger, the authorities will not be called. 

What if a parent changes their mind and wants the baby back?

It is rare, it takes several months before the parents’ rights are legally terminated. Up until that time, either parent may contact social services in the county where the baby was turned over. When parenthood is established, and social services determines that the person can be a fit parent, the baby is returned. 

How many states have the Safe Haven Law? When did Colorado enact the Safe Haven Law?

All 50 states have the Safe Haven Law! Colorado enacted the Safe Haven Law in 2020. 

What is known about mothers who abandon their babies?

 The most common age for a mother who abandons her baby is 19, but range from 13 - 42 years of age. Generally, these mothers did not have a history of drug abuse or criminal behavior.  The problem is not concentrated in any economic or racial category. It crosses all socio-economic groups. The mothers who committed these crimes did not know about their safe alternative under the Safe Haven law. 

What is known about infanticide and infant abandonment?

 More than 100 newborn children are murdered or abandoned and left to die in the United States every year.  Experts believe that for all the abandoned babies that are found, at least twice as many are not found.  A person is 10 times more likely to be murdered in the first 24 hours of their life, than on any other day of their lives.