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Safe Surrender an Option for Overwhelmed Mothers


North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services
News Release - July 5, 2012
Contact: Lori Walston, DHHS Public Affairs, 919-855-4840

RALEIGH - In light of this week’s report of a newborn baby abandoned in Guilford County, North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Al Delia is reminding the public–and especially mothers who might be overwhelmed–that North Carolina’s Safe Surrender law provides an option to keep babies safe.

In 2001, the N.C. General Assembly passed a law that allows a parent to surrender a newborn to a responsible adult without fear of criminal prosecution. The intent of the law was to help prevent a new mother from abandoning and endangering her baby.

North Carolina law allows any responsible adult to receive a newborn under the age of seven days. 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. Anyone who is presented with an abandoned newborn must protect the infant and notify law enforcement or their county social services department immediately.

"Every year there are situations where babies are placed at risk because a frightened and overwhelmed mother, usually a young woman, tries to hide her newborn baby,” said Delia. "If she gives birth and panics, she need only find a responsible adult to take her child. This is not about abandoning a baby on a doorstep. The person-to-person contact is the key.”

Newborns are not safe if left alone, even in a place most people would consider to be safe, because there may not be a staff person or employee present. Hours, even minutes, can mean the difference between life and death for a newborn.

Another option for women who are pregnant is to contact county departments of social services or private adoption agencies to help prepare for birth and arrange for a safe adoption.

For more information about Safe Surrender in North Carolina, contact your county Department of Social Services. A listing is available at or at

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