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Wyoming Safe Haven Laws

A parent or a parent’s designee may relinquish a newborn child not older than 14 days to a safe haven provider in accordance with the safe haven laws preserving their anonymity.[i]  According to Wyo. Stat. § 14-11-102(vii), “Safe haven provider” means a fire station, hospital, police department or any other place of shelter and safety.  The section more specifically states:

(vii) “Safe haven provider” means any of the following that is staffed twenty-four (24) hours a day, seven (7) days a week:

(A) A fire station;

(B) A hospital;

(C) A police department or sheriff’s office; or

(D) Any other place of shelter and safety identified by the department of family services which meets the requirements of rules and regulations promulgated pursuant to W.S. 14-11-107.

A safe haven provider shall accept a relinquished newborn child pursuant to the provisions of the Safe Haven laws, and may presume that the person relinquishing is the child’s parent or parent’s designee.[ii]

Relinquishment of a newborn child according to the Safe Haven laws shall not by itself constitute abuse or neglect, and the child shall not be considered an abused or neglected child.[iii]
The parent or parent’s designee may provide information regarding the parent and the newborn child’s medical histories.  They may also provide identifying information regarding the non relinquishing parent.  However, the safe haven provider may not force the surrendering person to disclose any information.[iv]

Upon receiving the child, a safe haven provider may provide any necessary emergency medical care to the newborn child.  After that, it shall deliver custody of the child to the nearest hospital as soon as possible.[v]
The hospital receiving a relinquished child may provide any necessary medical care to the child.  Within 24 hours of receiving the child, the hospital shall notify the local child protective agency.[vi]  The local child protective agency shall assume care and custody of the child immediately upon receiving notice from the hospital.  After that, the agency shall assist in placement of the newborn.[vii]

Each local child protective agency shall maintain a report of the number of newborn children relinquished according to the Safe Haven laws. The report shall be updated on a monthly basis, and shall be submitted to the Department.[viii]

If any reliable information regarding the identity of the child is not provided, the Department of Family Services shall work with law enforcement agencies and make efforts to find out if the relinquished child is a missing child.[ix]

The Department shall be responsible to promulgate rules and regulations necessary for the effective implementation of Safe Haven laws.[x]  The Department shall place or contract for placement of the newborn child in a potential adoptive home.[xi]  The Department shall also file a petition for the termination of the parent-child legal relationship if neither parent of the newborn child makes a claim for the child within three months of relinquishment of the child to a safe haven provider.[xii]  However, before filing the petition, the Department shall also conduct a search of the putative father registry for unmarried biological fathers and if the putative father is identified, the petition shall be served pursuant to W.S. 14-2-313[xiii] (dealing with service of petition in cases of termination of parental rights).
Relinquishment of a newborn child according to the Safe Haven laws may be raised as an affirmative defense to any potential criminal liability for abandonment or neglect relating to that relinquishment if the person relinquishing the newborn is the newborn’s parent or the parent’s designee.[xiv]

Any person, official, institution or agency is immune from any civil or criminal liability for participating in good faith in any act required or permitted by the Safe Haven laws.[xv]

[i] Wyo. Stat. § 14-11-103 (a)

[ii] Wyo. Stat. § 14-11-103 (c)

[iii] Wyo. Stat. § 14-11-103 (b)

[iv] Wyo. Stat. § 14-11-103 (d)

[v] Wyo. Stat. § 14-11-103 (e)

[vi] Wyo. Stat. § 14-11-103 (f)

[vii] Wyo. Stat. § 14-11-103 (g)

[viii] Wyo. Stat. § 14-11-109

[ix] Wyo. Stat. § 14-11-104

[x] Wyo. Stat. § 14-11-107

[xi] Wyo. Stat. § 14-11-105(a)

[xii] Wyo. Stat. § 14-11-105(b)

[xiii] Wyo. Stat. § 14-11-105(c)

[xiv] Wyo. Stat. § 14-11-106

[xv] Wyo. Stat. § 14-11-108

Inside Wyoming Safe Haven Laws