Louisiana Adoption Laws, pg 7

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Infant Safe Haven Laws

Infant's Age
Ch. Code art. 1150

An infant may be relinquished. ''Infant'' means a child not previously subjected to abuse or neglect, who is not more than 30 days old as determined within a reasonable degree of medical certainty by an examining physician.

Who May Relinquish the Infant
Ch. Code art. 1150; 1151

''Relinquish'' or ''relinquishment'' of an infant means to give possession or control of the infant by a parent to another with the settled intent to forego all parental responsibilities.

If a parent wishes to relinquish his or her infant, he or she may leave the infant in the care of any employee of a designated emergency care facility. If the parent is unable to travel to such a facility, he or she may call ''911,'' and a law enforcement officer or emergency medical service provider shall immediately be dispatched to meet the parent and transport the child to a hospital.

Who May Receive the Infant
Ch. Code art. 1150

The infant may be delivered to a designated emergency care facility, including any:

  • Hospital
  • Public health unit
  • Emergency medical service provider
  • Medical clinic
  • Police station
  • Fire station
  • Pregnancy crisis center
  • Child advocacy center

Responsibilities of the Safe Haven Provider
Ch. Code art. 1152

Every designated emergency care facility shall appoint as its representative one or more employees on duty during regular business hours who is knowledgeable about the requirements of this Chapter. In addition, at other times each facility shall designate a representative who can be reached by emergency telephone service.

The department shall create a card that will be supplied to designated emergency care facilities. The card shall be given to the individual relinquishing an infant into the care of a designated emergency care facility. The card shall contain a toll free number to the department and a section on the card for the designated emergency care facility to provide their address and contact information.

In the event that the relinquishing parent makes contact with the department or the designated emergency care facility, the relinquishing parent shall be asked to voluntarily provide information about any prenatal care and the name of the other parent. The representative shall provide to the parent written information about:

  • How to contact the department should the parent later have questions about the relinquishment or the voluntary medical and genetic history information
  • The availability of counseling services
  • The right of the parent to file a claim and be heard in accordance with Articles 1156 and 1157
  • The right of the parent to use the services of the voluntary registry in accordance with Chapter 15 of Title XII

In the event that an infant is relinquished to a designated emergency care facility other than a hospital, the staff of the facility shall immediately transfer him to a hospital. The representative shall immediately notify the department of the relinquishment.

Immunity for the Provider
Ch. Code art. 1152

Absent evidence of willful or intentional misconduct or gross negligence in carrying out their responsibilities, the representative and other staff of the designated emergency facility shall be immune from civil and criminal liability in any legal action arising from the examination, testing, care, and treatment of the infant.

Protection for Relinquishing Parent
Ch. Code art. 1151

Relinquishment in accordance with this law is not a criminal act of neglect, abandonment, cruelty, or crime against the child.

Effect on Parental Rights
Ch. Code art. 1154; 1156; 1157; 1158

The department shall take physical custody of the infant within 12 hours of notice that the infant is ready to be discharged from the hospital. The department shall exercise due diligence in attempting to identify and locate any nonrelinquishing parent, including, but not limited to, performing a missing children search.

Within 30 days after the relinquishment, the parent may seek to reclaim parental rights by filing a motion declaring his or her intention to retain his or her parental rights. The court shall order blood or tissue testing and shall also order the department to immediately conduct a home study of any parent seeking to reclaim his or her rights. A relinquishing parent may reclaim parental rights by proving by clear and convincing evidence that:

  • He or she is the parent of the child.
  • Setting aside the relinquishment and permitting the parent to reclaim the child is in the child's best interests.

If the court finds that the relinquishment should be set aside and that the parent may reclaim his or her parental rights, then the parent shall also prove that he or she has manifested a substantial commitment to his or her parental responsibilities and is a fit parent of the child. If the court finds that the parent has established parental rights, it may also order the parent to reimburse all or part of the medical expenses incurred for the infant in connection with his or her birth and care.

If a relinquishing parent has not made a timely claim to the child, and if no timely claim has been made by a nonrelinquishing father, the court shall, within 45 days after the relinquishment, terminate the rights of the parents.

No action to annul a judgment terminating parental rights shall be brought for any reason after 90 days from its signing or after a decree of adoption has been entered, whichever is earlier.

Credits: Child Welfare Information Gateway (http://www.childwelfare.gov)

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