Safe Surrender (Surrender Newborns Safely)

North Carolina’s Safe Surrender Law allows an overwhelmed parent to surrender a newborn (an infant up to seven days old) to a responsible adult safely and anonymously.

Why is the Safe Surrender Law Necessary?

The risk of homicide on the first day of life is 10 times greater than during any other time of life. The law provides parents in crisis who feel they have no other choice a way to surrender their unwanted baby safely and anonymously.

How to Safely Surrender Your Newborn

Make sure that the baby is healthy, warm and clean. Then, find a responsible adult who will assist you with the surrender of your newborn.

Your best options for a Safe Surrender contact include:

  • A health care provider
  • A law enforcement officer
  • A social services worker
  • An emergency medical personnel
  • A trusted, responsible adult who understands the best interests of the child

Do Not Leave the Baby Somewhere and Hope that Someone Will Find it.

Many states have what are called Safe Haven laws. These designate places where a baby may be surrendered. North Carolina's law is different in that it designates people, not places. This is not abandoning a baby on a doorstep. The person-to-person interaction is the key.

If you choose Safe Surrender, you are not required by law to give any information. However, it would be helpful to your baby and the family who adopts him or her if you make some health and family history information available. A surrendering parent can provide information to the adult who accepts the baby or that information may be sent anonymously to the county department of social services.

Do Fathers Have the Right to Reclaim a Surrendered Newborn?

Any man who hears of a surrendered infant and believes it may be his should come forward. Before a child can be adopted in North Carolina, some effort must be made to find the father to request permission or allow the father to take the child.

If You or the Newborn Needs Medical Attention, Get it Right Away.

Having a baby without any medical help can lead to serious complications for you or the baby. It is better to seek help than to risk serious health consequences.

If you have any of the following symptoms, seek medical care:

  • Vaginal bleeding that doesn't slow down when you rest
  • A bad smell to vaginal blood
  • A fever of 101 or above
  • Pain in the abdomen or vaginal area
  • Severe headaches
  • Blurred vision
  • A feeling of burning when you urinate

Other Available Options (Besides Safe Surrender)

There are agencies that can help you arrange for the adoption of your child to a safe and loving home.

You can also contact the local Department of Social Services, a licensed adoption agency or your county health department.

If you are pregnant, Medicaid can provide comprehensive care from the beginning of pregnancy through the postpartum period. Infants born to Medicaid-eligible women continue to be eligible until their first birthday.

In an emergency call 911. For more information about the Safe Surrender Law, please contact your local Department of Social Services.

More Information

Information for Women in Crisis
What the Law Says about Safe Surrender

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