States have worked to enact various "safe surrender" or "Infant Safe Haven" laws in an effort to save the lives of babies who are abandoned or "discarded" in high-risk environments. So, where can you legally surrender a baby? The Children's Bureau of the U.S Department of Health & Human Services provides information on where a parent can legally surrender a baby in each state.
Since 1999, states across the country have gradually enacted laws to provide safe spaces for a parent, or a mother specifically, to legally surrender their newborn babies. Now, all 50 states have some variation of "Safe Haven" laws that the HHS states fulfills the following purpose, according to Fusion:
The purpose of these laws is to prevent these babies from being abandoned at places where they may come to harm.
According to an HHS document titled, Child Welfare Information Gateway, most states give rights to either parent to surrender his or her baby, with the exception of four states and Puerto Rico, which stipulates that only a mother can surrender her baby. Eight states don't have specifications on who can surrender the baby, the document read. Safe Haven laws vary from state to state, but as the HHS document explains, their purpose is to: "ensure that relinquished infants are left with persons who can provide the immediate care needed for their safety and well-being."
As for where parents can legally surrender their babies, the "Safe Haven" destinations are determined by state laws. According to HHS, 16 states require that parents can only surrender their babies to hospitals, emergency medical services providers, or health-care facilities. In 27 states, fire stations are also appointed as a Safe Haven location, and in 25 states, police stations and other law enforcement agencies are also listed.
It's important to be aware of the laws for surrendering a baby as it pertains to each state. The Child Welfare division of HHS provides a list of summaries on Infant Safe Haven laws for each state. That document can be accessed within the Child Welfare Information Gateway document here.
Parents surrendering a baby can remain anonymous through the application of Safe Haven laws. The goal for the outcome for parents, according to HHS, is to be "shielded from prosecution" by safely surrendering their baby:
Safe haven laws generally allow the parent, or an agent of the parent, to remain anonymous and to be shielded from prosecution for abandonment or neglect in exchange for surrendering the baby to a safe haven.