Michael F. Easley
Governor

The Great Seal of the State of North Carolina Carmen Hooker Odom
Secretary

North Carolina
Department of Health and Human Services

For Release: IMMEDIATE
Date: February 8, 2007

  Contact: Brad Deen

Safe Surrender an option for overwhelmed mothers

RALEIGH: In light of the recent deaths of abandoned infants in Duplin and Nash counties, the state Department of Health and Human Services is reminding the public—and especially mothers who might be overwhelmed—that North Carolina’s Safe Surrender law is an option to keep babies safe.

In 2001, the North Carolina General Assembly passed a law making it legal for a woman to surrender a newborn to a responsible adult without fear of criminal prosecution. This was designed to help prevent a postpartum woman who is distraught from endangering her baby.

A hospital worker, a social worker, a law enforcement officer or emergency medical worker are all examples of responsible adults who are familiar with the law and would be appropriate. However, as the law is written, any responsible adult can receive a newborn under the age of seven days. They then must protect the infant and immediately notify law enforcement or their county social services department.

" Every year there are situations where babies are placed at risk because a frightened and overwhelmed woman, usually a young woman, tries to hide her newborn baby,” said Sherry Bradsher, director of the N.C. Division of Social Services. "If she gives birth and panics, she need only find a responsible adult to take her child. However, it is essential that the baby be turned over to a responsible adult. It’s the person-to-person contact that is the key.

“ A child’s safety cannot always be guaranteed leaving it in what most people would consider to be a safe place, such as at a church, because there may not be a staff person or employee present,” Bradsher continued. “Before the birth, however, county departments of social services and private adoption agencies can help a woman prepare for the birth and arrange for a safe adoption."

For more information about Safe Surrender in North Carolina, go to www.safesurrender.net.

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Public Affairs Office
101 Blair Drive, Raleigh, NC 27603
(919)733-9190
FAX (919)733-7447

Debbie Crane
Director