The Difference Between Safe Harbor and Adoption

Safe Harbor vs Adoption Difference

The prospect of bringing a baby into the world is both joyful and unsettling especially if the expectant mother does not have a strong social network upon which to rely. In the latter event, some very difficult choices will often need to be made – most notably whether or not the child should be kept, provided safe harbor or given up for adoption. The first option is usually chosen but under certain circumstances, one of the latter two options is preferable. Here are a few things to know about the differences in safe harbor and adoption:

  • Adoption – By far, state-sanctioned adoption is still the most prevalent choice when a mother chooses to give up the custody of a newborn child. If you do choose to place your infant up for adoption, you will be required to execute a number of legal documents. The adoption plan will then be overseen by a third-party intermediary who will not only preeminently protect the interests of the child but also ensure that the other two parties never need to meet. Bear in mind that it is a binding legal contract where the mother essentially forfeits their right to all custody of the child. In other words, forget what you see on television as there are no second chances once the documents are signed.
  • Safe Harbor – On the other hand, the safe haven laws of most states will allow a mother to leave their newborn with an on duty-employee on at any hospital, emergency medical services provider or child welfare agency for up to 30 days. While this is not an ideal situation, it does provide some recourse for those in dire need and who cares about the welfare of the child. In the end, if you do not return to reclaim your baby, your parental rights will be terminated just a few months later and the child will – hopefully! – be adopted by a family waiting for a child. Safe Haven arrangements are essentially paperless and require no contracts. The process is completely anonymous as long as the baby is healthy and unharmed.

Both the safe haven and adoption options can be heart-wrenching but they do provide a very viable alternative for a new mother who simply cannot provide for their child. Not to be harsh about the predicament of the mother but some very difficult decisions must be made and the welfare of the child should always be the first concern. With that last thought in mind, please – PLEASE! – remember that, leaving the newborn with a suitable guardian at an appropriate location – as long as it has not been harmed in any way – the parent will face no legal consequences for making this choice.

Not to preach, but to inject some reality into this situation – it is a baby. If you cannot cherish it and properly provide for it, you need to provide your baby with a chance to grow up. For more detailed information on their differences between the options of safe harbor and adoption or if you need help with your unplanned pregnancy in the Northwest Ohio area, please contact us at Your First Look Women’s Center. We can be found online at or reached directly at 419.720.3338.