Delaware Code Title 16. Health and Safety § 907A. Safe Arms for Babies
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(a) The General Assembly finds and declares all of the following:
(1) The abandonment of a baby is an irresponsible act by a parent and places the baby at risk of injury or death from exposure, actions by other individuals, and harm from animals.
(2) Delivering a live baby to a safe place is far preferable to a baby being killed or abandoned by a parent.
(3) The purpose of this section is not to circumvent the responsible action of a parent who adheres to the process of placing a baby for adoption, but to prevent the unnecessary risk of harm to or death of that baby by a desperate parent who would otherwise abandon or cause the death of that baby.
(4) Medical information about the baby and the baby's parents is critical for the adoptive parents and every effort should be made, without risking the safe placement of the baby, to obtain that medical information and provide counseling information to the parents.
(5) If this section does not result in the safe placement of babies or is abused by a parent attempting to circumvent the process of adoption, it should be repealed.
(b) If a baby is surrendered alive and unharmed, an individual may voluntarily surrender the baby directly to an employee or volunteer of 1 of the following designated safe havens:
(1) An emergency department of a hospital, inside the emergency department.
(2) A police station, inside the police station. For the purposes of this paragraph (b)(2), “police station” does not include a Delaware State Police station.
(c)(1) A safe haven under subsection (b) of this section may take temporary emergency protective custody of a baby who is surrendered under this section.
(2) Except as otherwise required under paragraph (c)(4) of this section, a safe haven under subsection (b) of this section may not ask or require an individual who surrenders the baby to provide any information pertaining to the individual's identity.
(3) If the identity of the individual is known to the safe haven under subsection (b) of this section, the safe haven shall keep the identity confidential.
(4) A safe haven under subsection (b) of this section shall do 1 of the following:
a. Make reasonable efforts to directly obtain pertinent medical history information pertaining to the baby and the baby's family.
b. Attempt to provide the individual with a postage paid medical history information questionnaire.
(d) A safe haven under subsection (b) of this section shall attempt to provide the following to an individual surrendering a baby at the safe haven:
(1) Information about the Safe Arms Program.
(2) Information about adoption and counseling services, including information that confidential adoption services are available and information about the benefits of engaging in a regular, voluntary adoption process.
(3) Brochures with telephone numbers and websites for public or private agencies that provide counseling or adoption services.
(e) A safe haven under subsection (b) of this section shall attempt to provide an individual surrendering a baby with the number of the baby's identification bracelet to aid in linking the individual to the baby at a later date, if reunification is sought. The identification number is an identification aid only and does not permit the individual possessing the identification number to take custody of the baby on demand.
(f) If an individual possesses an identification number linking the individual to a baby surrendered at a safe haven under subsection (b) of this section and parental rights have not already been terminated, possession of the identification number creates a presumption that the individual has standing to participate in an action. Possession of the identification number does not create a presumption of maternity, paternity, or custody.
(g)(1) A safe haven under subsection (b) of this section that takes a baby into temporary emergency protective custody under this section shall immediately notify the Department and the State Police of the safe haven's actions.
(2) The Department shall obtain ex parte custody and physically appear at the safe haven under subsection (b) of this section within 4 hours of notification under this subsection unless there are exigent circumstances.
(3) Immediately after being notified of the surrender, the State Police shall submit an inquiry to the Missing Children Information Clearinghouse established under subchapter III of Chapter 85 of Title 11.
(h) The Department shall notify the public that a baby has been abandoned and taken into temporary emergency protective custody by placing notice prominently on the Division's website and publishing notice to that effect in a newspaper of statewide circulation.
(1) The notice must be published at least 3 times over a 3-week period immediately following the surrender of the baby unless the Department has relinquished custody.
(2) The notice, at a minimum, must contain the place, date, and time where the baby was surrendered; the baby's sex, race, approximate age, identifying marks, and any other information the Department deems necessary for the baby's identification.
(3) The notice must include a statement that unless the surrendering individual manifests an intent to exercise parental rights and responsibilities within 30 days of the abandonment, both of the following apply:
a. The abandonment of the baby is the surrendering individual's irrevocable consent to the termination of all parental rights, if any, of the individual on the ground of abandonment.
b. The abandonment of the baby is the surrendering individual's irrevocable waiver of any right to notice of or opportunity to participate in any termination of parental rights proceeding involving the baby.
(i) When an individual who surrenders a baby under this section manifests a desire to remain anonymous, the Department may not initiate or conduct an investigation to determine the identity of the individual, and a court may not order an investigation unless there is good cause to suspect child abuse or neglect other than the act of surrendering the baby.
(j) The Department of Health and Social Services shall do all of the following:
(1) Establish a public information program to promote safe placement alternatives for babies, the confidentiality offered to birth parents, and information regarding adoption procedures. This program must include the use of a 24-hour, toll free hotline to assist in making information about the intent, purposes, and operation of this section as widely available as possible.
(2) Adopt a handout to be distributed to a safe haven under subsection (b) of this section. The handout must be furnished to an individual who surrenders the care or custody of a baby to the safe haven. The handout must advise the individual of the availability of counseling services and must elicit from the individual via a postage prepaid questionnaire relevant health history of the baby and the baby's parents.
(3) Provide a safe haven under subsection (b) of this section with information about relevant social service agencies to be made available to an individual who voluntarily surrenders a baby under this section.
Cite this article: FindLaw.com - Delaware Code Title 16. Health and Safety § 907A. Safe Arms for Babies - last updated January 01, 2022 | https://codes.findlaw.com/de/title-16-health-and-safety/de-code-sect-16-907a/
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