Baby Safe Haven or Adoption Plan: Choosing an Adoption Path that Works for You
If you’re unexpectedly pregnant, you might be thinking about placing your baby for adoption. Maybe you aren’t able to care for a baby. Maybe you’re not ready to be a parent. Maybe you don’t want to be a parent (right now or ever). Whatever the reason, you are not alone: Birth mothers choose adoption for a variety of reasons.
When it comes to adoption, you have a couple of options to ensure that your baby ends up in a safe and caring home: a baby safe haven or an adoption plan.
Here’s what you need to know about these two different paths to adoption:
What is a Baby Safe Haven?
A baby safe haven is a location where you can safely and legally leave your baby. Baby safe havens include hospitals, fire stations, police stations, ambulance stations, maternity homes and pregnancy centers. You must give your baby to a baby safe haven provider, which is a person who works or volunteers at one of these locations.
The baby safe haven provider will accept physical custody of your baby and ensure that your baby receives care. The baby safe haven provider will then notify the child welfare department, which will arrange for the adoption of your baby.
How the Baby Safe Haven Option Works in Missouri
Here’s what you need to know about the Safe Place for Newborns Law in Missouri:
- Your baby must be 45 days old (1.5 months) or younger.
- Your baby must be unharmed and show no signs of abuse.
- As a birth parent, you are guaranteed anonymity. You do not need to provide any identifying information about yourself or your baby. If you wish, you may disclose helpful health information.
- When you leave your child with a baby safe haven provider, you permanently relinquish your parental rights and you consent to adoption.
- If you safely and voluntarily leave your baby with a designated professional at a baby safe haven, you are protected from prosecution for child abandonment or child endangerment.
Here is the list of baby safe haven providers in Missouri:
- Law enforcement officer
- EMT (Emergency Medical Technician)
- Hospital staff member or volunteer
- Maternity home or pregnancy center staff member or volunteer
If you bring your baby to a location other than a hospital, your baby will be taken to the nearest hospital for medical treatment and care.
The Children’s Division of the Missouri Department of Social Services will ensure that your baby is placed with a loving and caring family.
Pros of the Baby Safe Haven Option in Missouri
- You can safely leave your baby knowing that he or she will be protected and cared for.
- You are protected from liability for child abandonment, neglect or endangerment.
- You do not need to reveal your identity yourself or provide any information to anyone. No questions asked. No paperwork or contracts necessary.
- Your baby will be safe and placed in a permanent home.
Creating Your Adoption Plan
An adoption plan involves figuring out your preferences for your baby’s adoption. You get to choose the family who adopts your baby. You get to choose how much you stay in touch with your child and the adoptive family.
- Choosing an Adoption Arrangement: It is up to you how involved you’ll be in your child’s life post-adoption. You decide how much contact you’ll have with your child and the adoptive parents. There are three types of adoption to choose from that vary in level of privacy and communication: closed, semi-open, and open. There are pros and cons to each type. There’s no right or wrong decision. You get to decide what works best for you.
Here are some questions to consider:
- Do you want to keep your birth mother identity confidential?
- Do you prefer to have no contact with the family who adopts your child? Or do you want to meet the adoptive family and communicate with them directly?
- Do you want to receive updates about how your child is doing post-adoption? If so, how frequently?
- Choosing a Family Type: You can think about what you want in an adoptive family. These are some characteristics to consider when choosing the family you think can provide the best life for your baby:
- Family form and size: Do you want your baby to be adopted by a single parent? An LGBTQ family? A transracial family? Does it matter to you if the adoptive family already has children?
- Lifestyle, culture and values: Where does the adoptive family live? What is their employment? What hobbies and interests do they have? What are their values and beliefs?
- Choosing the Adoptive Family: Your adoption caseworker will show you profiles of families hoping to adopt. All adoptive parents have passed screening tests, interviews and background checks. They’ve also received adoption and parenting training.
- You will look at pictures of the families and learn all about them. Then you will choose a family that matches what you’re looking for.
Remember, your Birth Parent Counselor will be there to help you make these choices.
Pros of an Adoption Plan
- You are involved throughout the entire adoption process.
- You select the family that will adopt your baby.
- You can control how much contact you have with the adoptive family and your child.
- Your baby will be loved and cared for in a permanent home.
Baby Safe Haven or Adoption Plan?
Whatever adoption choice you make, your baby will be safe and end up in a stable and loving family. At Adoption Choices of Kansas and Missouri, we are here for you as you make decisions about your unplanned pregnancy, whether you want to bring your newborn to a baby safe haven or develop an adoption plan.
Adoption Choices of Kansas and Missouri serves birth parents statewide and beyond, please call us or text us to learn more! Call us toll free at 877-903-4488 or, in Missouri call or text us at 1-816-527-9800
Meet the Author: Zoë Bowlus, a writing and editing enthusiast, considers herself a grammar groupie and suffers from a weakness for wordplay and working with words, whether she is reading, furiously typing away, playing Words with Friends, or filling in the Sunday New York Times crossword puzzle.
She was adopted from Vietnam as a baby and began exploring her adoptee identity in Asian American Studies and Communication courses at UC Santa Barbara. As she combed through adoption literature for her last essay of college (she graduated with highest honors in 2020), she was inspired to use the research, editing, and writing skills she developed in college and her personal experience to create resources and share stories about adoption in a professional context. Writing for Adoption Choices, Zoë hopes to support people on their adoption journeys and to grow as an adoptee herself.
Zoë is an aspiring cat lady who is allergic to cats. She enjoys curling up with homemade hot chocolate, kettle corn, and a good book but laments the absence of a feline reading companion. Her bedside table and bookshelves are overflowing with World War II historical fiction, Asian American and Mexico-U.S. borderlands fiction, contemporary fiction, grammar and style books, and collections of profiles. She spends an inordinate amount of time playing bridge.
An avid NBA fan, Zoë lives in Sacramento, the primary reason anyone would root for the Kings. She holds out hope that they will make it to the playoffs during her lifetime.