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Safe Arms for Babies is a law that allows a parent to go to any Delaware hospital emergency department and leave their newborn (14 days old or younger) with any emergency department staff or volunteer. This law provides immunity from criminal prosecution provided the baby is alive, unharmed and brought into a hospital emergency department.
The person surrendering the baby will not be asked for identification, will not be asked who they are, will not have their identity revealed and will not be contacted. The employee or volunteer of the hospital will make a reasonable attempt to provide the person surrendering the baby with the identification number of the baby, a mail-back medical questionnaire and information about the Safe Arms for Babies law that includes a list of phone numbers for public and private agencies that provide counseling and adoption services.
If an infant is surrendered under the law, the hospital will place a numbered identification bracelet on the baby as an aid in linking the person and the medical questionnaire to the baby. The baby will receive a medical screening examination and any necessary medical care. The hospital will take temporary emergency protective custody of the baby and immediately notify the Division of Family Services and the State Police that a baby has been surrendered under the law. The Division of Family Services will request ex parte custody of the baby from Family Court and the State Police will submit an inquiry to the Delaware Missing Children Information Clearinghouse.
The baby will be placed with a family willing to adopt the child if parental rights are terminated.
If a parent changes their mind and wants their baby back, they can call the Division of Family Services hotline at 1-800-292-9582 and say they wish to be reunited with their baby. The Division of Family Services shall seek to terminate parental rights unless the parent seeks reunification within 30 days of the date of surrender. It is important to note that the identification number given the baby at the time of surrender is an identification aid only and does not permit the person possessing the identification number to take custody of the baby on demand.
Once the baby has been surrendered to the hospital, the baby will not be returned by the hospital until the Division of Family Services and Family Court determines that the baby can be cared for safely.
To speak with someone directly 24-hours a day about the Safe Arms for Babies, call the toll-free 24-hour hotline.
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