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Can I relinquish custody of my baby through the Safe Haven Law?

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If you are pregnant or have already given birth then the Safe Haven law can be of assistance if you feel the need to give up your baby. The law was passed in 2001 to prevent infants from being abandoned in dangerous circumstances. The Safe Haven law provides parents with a way to give up babies in a safe environment without risking harm to the child.

Safe Havens in Illinois include manned fire stations, sheriff's offices, police stations and hospitals. One of the most important points is that the location in which you leave your baby must be staffed. In other words you cannot drop your child off at the door. In fact, you must physically hand your baby to a staff member. Below is a list of other important elements of the Safe Haven law.

-- The infant can be no more than 30 days old

-- The infant must be unharmed

-- Parents may remain anonymous

-- Parents are not required to answer questions or provide information

-- Parents who use the law properly will be immune from prosecution for child abandonment

-- It is presumed that parents who use the law are consenting to the termination of parental rights

-- It is presumed that parents who use the law are relinquishing the baby for adoption

-- Parents have approximately 60 days to petition the courts for return of child custody if they change their minds

Looking at the big picture, it does not matter why you are considering taking advantage of the Safe Haven law. What does matter is the health and safety of your infant. You should also know that other options exist aside from the Safe Haven law. If possible, consider speaking with a family law attorney. An Illinois lawyer can help you investigate adoption procedures or even transferring child custody to a member of your family.

Source: Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, "Help is Here," accessed May 12, 2016

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