Imagine being a new parent – perhaps young, perhaps without a support system, perhaps unable to care for your newborn due to circumstances outside of your control. You’ve tried all you can, yet the stress and demands are too great and it’s just too much. You need immediate relief, but what can you do?
The Safe Place For Newborns Act
One option to consider is utilizing Missouri’s Safe Place for Newborns Act. This law, enacted in 2002, allows a parent to permanently give up custody of a newborn – up to 45 days old, without prosecution, as long as it is done safely and according to law.
This law was created to protect newborn children from injury or death resulting from abandonment by a parent. The intention of the law is to provide a safe alternative to such abandonment in which a newborn is left alone somewhere.
Know The Facts Before You Decide
A newborn child can be left with appropriate professionals such as those on staff at a pregnancy resource center such as Birthright St. Charles. As designated by the law, a newborn can be left with the following personnel:
- A law enforcement officer
- Emergency Medical Technician (EMT)
- Any staff in a health provider or nonmedical paid or volunteer position of a hospital, maternity home, or pregnancy resource center
Parents considering utilizing this option should understand and take the following info consideration before making a final decision:
- Once made, this decision is a permanent one. If you change your mind after leaving your infant, you will have to call the Missouri Department of Family Services for information about your baby and will be required to go through your local child welfare system to obtain custody of your infant.
- The newborn must be safe and left with an appropriate professional, such as the ones listed above, within 45 days of the infant’s birth. The infant must be physically handed over to the personnel and not left unattended.
- The other parent still has rights that need to be considered in the decision. The other parent must prove that they are the parent within 30 days after a juvenile officer has filed a notice in order to take custody of the child.
Birthright Offers Support & Options
The staff at Birthright St. Charles understands that being a new mom can be very difficult. It often requires much sacrifice, energy and can absolutely affect your overall wellbeing. We offer free, confidential care for all women facing an unexpected pregnancy and find themselves lost.
Please know this law is in place to help ensure the well-being of you and your newborn. There is no shame in accepting the reality of the struggle and making decisions for the betterment and safety of yourself and your newborn.
We’re here to help.