As of May 2010, 49 American states had incorporated "safe haven" or "Baby Moses" laws into their legislation. Only Nebraska and the District of Columbia had not yet done so. With varying criteria, these laws allow the mother of an infant to take her baby to a police station, hospital or -- in some states -- a church if she cannot care for the baby or wants to give him up for adoption. She can do this without risk of prosecution. The child welfare department assumes custody of these babies and they become part of the foster care system.
Foster Care Process
Register with the social services program in your state to become a foster parent. You will receive an assessment questionnaire to complete. The caseworker will determine if you qualify to be a foster parent and, eventually, an adoptive parent. If and when a baby becomes available, you can fill out an interest form, expressing your desire to become her foster parent and tp eventually adopt her.
Attend an orientation program and preparation class. Orientation is usually a one-time event, but the preparation class may require as many as 40 hours over the course of several weeks.
Pass a background check. This is a more complex version of the assessment process. It usually involves things like verification of your income, employment, a criminal record check, fingerprinting for any past history of child or spousal abuse and medical clearance from your physician. Perfect health is not usually required, but terminal illness or a past history of drug or alcohol abuse could disqualify you.
Participate in a home study. Social services will send a caseworker to your home, sometimes multiple times, to assess you on a much more personal level. A home study usually involves a survey of your living habits, the quality of your relationships with others in your household, the safety of your home and your reasons for wanting to adopt.
Welcome the new baby into your home. Once you have attended all necessary classes and have passed the home study, your caseworker will contact the caseworker of the baby you have expressed a desire to adopt. If both are in agreement that the baby should be placed with you, you will be appointed as her foster parent and the infant will be placed in your care. If you're waiting to adopt an infant, you'll be notified when one is available.
Retain an attorney to formalize the adoption. Up until this point, social services has acted as your guide through the foster parent process, but their employees cannot represent you in court to finalize the adoption. You should not attempt the court proceedings on your own without an attorney.
Attend the adoption proceeding with your attorney. In most states, this hearing is scheduled within a year or so after you have registered to adopt, or approximately six months after your baby has been placed in your home.