Safe Haven for Newborns Information

Safe Haven, also known as “newborn relinquishment,” allows a parent to leave their newborn in a safe place in certain circumstances with certain individuals.

How does Safe Haven (Newborn Relinquishment) work?

Under Wisconsin Statutes § 48.195, a parent can leave their unharmed newborn (under 72 hours old) anonymously and without fear of prosecution in a newborn infant safety device as defined in 48.195(1b)(b) or with a:

  • Law enforcement officer
  • Emergency medical services practitioner
  • Hospital staff member

without fear of legal consequences. If you do not indicate that you will be back for your child this is called “Safe Haven” or “Newborn Relinquishment.” You do not have to give your name or address to the professional accepting the newborn, unless:

  • The newborn has been harmed
  • You are being forced by someone to give up the newborn
  • The newborn is more than 72 hours old

You may be asked if you are willing to fill out a form. This form is NOT required. It will, however, help providers give the best care to your newborn now and in the future.

What if I change my mind?

If you change your mind, please contact the County Human or Social Services Department in the county where you left the newborn with a professional under the Safe Haven law. Before the county will consider returning the newborn to you, you must first prove you are the newborn’s parent. A genetic test can prove you are the parent.

If you are the parent, you must take a number of steps before the child may be returned to you, including:

  • Meeting with a County Social Worker;
  • Having the County worker visit your home or where you plan on living with the child;
  • Providing information on why you gave up the newborn;
  • Providing information on the health of the newborn;
  • Providing information on your ability to care for the newborn, including parenting skills;
  • Providing information on anything that may keep you from caring for the newborn; and
  • Providing information on your relationship with the newborn’s other parent.

Based on all of this information, you may be asked to receive services to make sure the child will be safe in your care. The county and the court will make the final decision on the child’s return to your home.

Health Information for Birth Mothers

After women give birth they experience physical and emotional changes. Information about these changes and warning signs that could indicate you have serious health issues are reviewed in this handout.

Information Hotlines

Maternal and Child Health Hotline provides information and links to services for pregnant and postpartum women and children. Hotline: 1-800-722-2295

Safe Place for Newborns provides information on Safe Haven laws and crisis support. Crisis Number: 1-877-440-2229 

Additional Information

Learn about birth parent support at the Wisconsin Adoption Information Center or call 1-800-571-1105. There is also information for parents or soon-to-be parents thinking about adoption for their child(ren).

Learn about birth parent support at the Wisconsin Family Connections Center or call 1-800-762-8063. There is also information for parents or soon-to-be parent thinking about adoption for their child(ren)