Alaska is among the last states to adopt safe haven laws. Alaska enacted safe haven laws in the year 2008 in an effort to bring down the number of infants abandoned in unsafe places. The law states that parents may not be prosecuted for safe surrender of their children.[i] However, the relinquishment must be in accordance with relevant laws.
In Alaska, parents may surrender their newborn according to the manner described in AS 47.10.013(c) if the child is not more than 21 days or 3 weeks old.[ii] However, relinquishment is not possible if there is a court order regarding the custody of the child.[iii] According to the section 47.10.013(c), a parent’s duty to support their newborn comes to an end if the parent leaves the 3 week old or younger newborn: (a) in the custody of any person whom he/she believes would take care of the health, safety and other needs of the child; (b) peace officer, community health aide, physician, or hospital employee; or (c) an employee or volunteer for a fire department or emergency medical service while on duty. Additionally, the infant should not be physically injured before abandonment.[iv]
Abandoning parents are also exempt from the parent’s and child’s duty to maintain each other under AS 25.20.030, and parent’s duty to support child under AS 47.10.120.[v] All records regarding abandonment of child shall be confidential. These records shall not be subject to public inspection or copying under AS 40.25.100 — 40.25.220.[vi]
Any employee or volunteer for a fire department or emergency medical service on duty; peace officer; community health aide; physician; or hospital employee to which a child is surrendered:[vii]
- Shall take necessary actions for the appropriate care of the infant.
- May ask parents to disclose details such as name, identity and medical history of the infant, and name of the infant’s parents if the parents do not relinquish their parental rights. However, parents may disclose information only if they wish to do so. Disclosure of information is not mandatory.
- Ask infant’s parents if they wish to relinquish their parental rights and release infant for adoption. In cases where parents wish to relinquish their parental rights, the person/entity taking possession of infant shall contact the department so that parents can discuss the matter with the Department.
- Notify nearest office of the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services regarding the abandonment of infant.
Any individual, agency, facility, or entity that receives an infant abandoned safely shall not be liable for any civil damages if they fail to discharge their duties mentioned in Alaska Stat. § 47.10.013(d) after taking possession of the infant.[viii]
[i] Alaska Stat. § 11.81.500
[ii] Alaska Stat. § 11.81.500
[iii] Alaska Stat. § 11.81.500
[iv] Alaska Stat. § 47.10.013(c)
[v] Alaska Stat. § 47.10.013(c)
[vi] Alaska Stat. § 47.10.013(f)
[vii] Alaska Stat. § 47.10.013(d)
[viii] Alaska Stat. § 47.10.013(e)