How to Adopt Abandoned Infants

By Patti Richards
Abadoned babies get loving homes through safe-haven programs.
Abadoned babies get loving homes through safe-haven programs.

Many states have laws that allow mothers to bring their babies into a safe haven before they are 30 days old without risk of criminal prosecution as long as the baby is unharmed. A safe haven may be a hospital, emergency medical facility, staffed fire station or police station, depending on your state. Since the mothers are usually unidentified, parental rights do not need to be terminated, allowing these babies to be available for adoption more readily. Once left at a safe haven, abandoned babies are placed into the social services system and those families eligible to adopt are notified.

Contact the Department of Social Services in your area. Babies who are abandoned are placed in foster care until an adoptive family can be found. Many states have foster homes specifically for abandoned babies because of their unique needs, so these babies are usually not placed into conventional foster homes.

Complete an application to become an adoptive parent. The application process includes fingerprinting and criminal and child abuse background checks for everyone in the household who is 18 and older.

Attend the required amount of preparatory training to become an adoptive parent in your state. The average amount of time required in training class is 14 hours.

Have fire and sanitation inspections as well as required home visits for preapproval.

Provide the required number of character references as well as medical records for all family members in the household. You will also be asked to provide birth certificates, a marriage license and divorce decrees where appropriate.

Receive approval from the Department of Social Services and be placed on a list of approved families waiting to adopt infants.

Your case worker will contact you when an abandoned baby becomes available. In most cases, adopting an infant can take, on average, from one to five years. It all depends on the amount of people waiting to adopt an abandoned infant and how many infants are available at any given time.


Department of Social Services offices work with many private or faith-based adoption agencies to help place infants, so you can also apply to adopt abandoned infants through one of these types of organizations.

While you are waiting for an infant to adopt, take advantage of parenting classes through your local hospital, community center or faith-based organization. Having a baby naturally or through adoption can take time, so take advantage of parenting resources so you are ready when the call comes.

About the Author

Patti Richards has been a writer since 1990. She writes children’s books and articles on parenting, women's health and education. Her credits include San Diego Family Magazine, Metro Parent Magazine, Boys' Quest Magazine and many others. Richards has a Bachelor of Science in English/secondary education from Welch College.