North Dakota Safe Haven Laws


In North Dakota, a parent or an agent of the parent may leave an unharmed infant not older than one year at a hospital without fear of prosecution.[i]  Hospitals shall accept the abandoned infant in accordance with the Act. [ii]  The hospital may request information regarding the parents and shall provide the parent or the agent with a medical history form and an envelope with the hospital’s return address.[iii]  However, the parent or parent’s agent is not required to provide any information.[iv]

The hospital shall provide the parent or the agent with a numbered identification bracelet to link the parent or the agent to the abandoned infant.  The parent/agent cannot demand custody of the child on the sole ground of possessing the identification bracelet.[v]  Possession of the bracelet does not create a presumption of maternity, paternity, or custody.  However, possession of the bracelet creates a presumption that the individual has standing to participate in a protection services action if the parental rights are not terminated. [vi]

The hospital may provide the parent or the agent with information about the safe place for abandoned infant programs.  They may also provide information about adoption and counseling services; and the person to be contacted if the parent/agent seeks reunification with the child.[vii]

Within 24 hours of receiving an abandoned infant the hospital has to report to the Department that an abandoned infant has been left at the hospital.  However, the report may not be made before the parent or the agent leaves the hospital.[viii]

Upon receiving a report, the Department shall proceed as required by the Chapter dealing with child abuse and neglect if the Department determines that the abandoned infant is in an unharmed condition.  The Department shall not try to contact the parent or agent if the infant appears to be in an unharmed condition.  If the infant appears to be in a harmed condition, the Department shall initiate an investigation relating to the matter. [ix]

An individual who claims to be the parent or agent of an abandoned infant may contact the Department if it wants to reunite with the child. [x]  The Department may identify or contact the individual as required by the applicable laws.  Individuals may also contact the Department to collect information regarding adoption procedures.  In such cases, the Department may provide information regarding the procedures and attempt to obtain information about the identity and medical history of the child’s parent.  However, the individual cannot be compelled to disclose information.[xi]

The hospital and its employees and agents are exempt from any criminal or civil liability for accepting an abandoned infant. [xii]

[i] N.D. Cent. Code, § 50-25.1-15(2), § 27-20-02(2)

[ii] N.D. Cent. Code, § 50-25.1-15(3)

[iii] N.D. Cent. Code, § 50-25.1-15(3)

[iv] N.D. Cent. Code, § 50-25.1-15(3)

[v] N.D. Cent. Code, § 50-25.1-15(4)

[vi] N.D. Cent. Code, § 50-25.1-15(4)

[vii] N.D. Cent. Code, § 50-25.1-15(5)

[viii] N.D. Cent. Code, § 50-25.1-15(6)

[ix] N.D. Cent. Code, § 50-25.1-15(8)

[x] N.D. Cent. Code, § 50-25.1-15(9)

[xi] N.D. Cent. Code, § 50-25.1-15(9)

[xii] N.D. Cent. Code, § 50-25.1-15(7)