The Tennessee Safe Haven Law, enacted July 1, 2001 and amended in 2009, 2020, and 2022 allows mothers to surrender their unharmed newborn within 14 days of birth, confidentially and without fear of prosecution for abandonment, to staff at any Safe Haven Facility.

Knowing and sharing about the Safe Haven Law may save the life of a newborn!

Click below to read the original statute and the revised portion of the law, and follow us on social media for more information.

In order for the mother to safely surrender her newborn, the child must be within 14 days of birth. Following 14 days, the Safe Haven law is no longer available and a separate service, such as adoption, will need to be pursued.

Next, the mother needs to find an approved Safe Haven Facility to safely leave the baby with emergency medical services personnel.

Under Tennessee Law, the following classify as a Safe Haven Facility:

  • Hospitals
  • Birthing Centers
  • Health Departments
  • Outpatient, Walk-In Clinics
  • Fire Stations (24/7)
  • Emergency Medical Service Facilities (EMS)
  • Police Stations (24/7)

*Staff must be present at the time of the surrender.

The majority of these locations have a Safe Haven Facility sign posted for public visibility.

As long as the newborn shows no signs of physical abuse, the child is taken with no questions asked. A mother may provide important information for the child's well being, such as family medical history, child medical history, allergies, etc. which is completely confidential. However, it is not required.

This checklist does not include emotional preparation or reaching out to available resources prior to making this decision. It is meant to provide a specific list for Tennessee's Safe Haven Law.

1. ​Baby is within 14 days of birth.
2. Choose a Safe Haven Facility.
3. Go to the Safe Haven Facility to surrender.
4. Speak to a staff member at the Safe Haven Facility and tell them that you want to surrender your newborn under the Safe Haven Law.

The decision to relinquish custody of a child can be difficult. In order to better understand the process or to discuss this decision with another person, contact the 24/7 confidential Safe Haven Helpline at 1-866-699-SAFE.