The Abandoned Newborn Infant Protection Act offers a protected, legal alternative to unsafe infant abandonment. An unharmed newborn, up to 30 days old, may be handed to staff at a hospital, emergency medical care facility, police station, firehouse, college/University police station, or Illinois State Police district headquarters. No questions need to be answered and there is no fear of prosecution.
A parent who leaves a newborn with staff at a safe haven will be offered, but is not required to accept, an information packet, which summarizes the law, explains the rights of birth parents, describes the Illinois Adoption Registry, and provides resources on postpartum health care. The packet also includes an optional form (with self-mailer attached) for sharing basic background information about the child. As long as the infant shows no signs of abuse or neglect, the relinquishing parent may choose to remain anonymous and no attempt will be made to identify him/her. Cases of suspected abuse or neglect will, however, be reported to law enforcement in accordance with the Abused and Neglected Child Reporting Act.
If not relinquished to the care of a medical facility, the newborn will be taken to the nearest hospital and given medical attention as needed. Within 12 hours of receiving the child, either directly from a birth parent or upon transport from a police or fire station, the hospital must report the relinquishment to the Department of Children and Family Services’ (DCFS) State Central Registry (1-800-252-2873). DCFS will then confirm that the newborn is not a missing child and arrange for placement with a licensed Illinois adoption agency.
Within three days of assuming custody, the adoption agency must file a petition in the circuit court indicating that it intends to place the infant in an adoptive home. The agency may not initiate proceedings to terminate parental rights, appoint a guardian, or obtain consent for the child’s adoption until at least 60 days from the date of relinquishment, during which time the infant will be cared for by a prospective adoptive family. If the biological parent does not petition the court for the return of custody during this 60-day period, parental rights will be permanently terminated and a final adoption order may be issued.