Daniel's Law protects South Carolina parents surrendering newborns


The parents of a baby surrendered over the weekend at Trident Medical Center will not be prosecuted because they are protected by law.

The infant was surrendered at birth to hospital staff under Daniel’s Law, a safe haven act that protects abandoned babies.

“As long as the baby is unharmed when the baby is left, there is no prosecution at all,” says S.C. Department of Social Services (DSS) attorney Jillian Ullman.

Daniel’s Law helps families in crisis. Protecting them while keeping a child safe. It’s named for an infant boy found buried alive in a landfill after he was born.

By law, the child must be less than two-months-old when surrendered. A medical history is then asked for to assess the child’s welfare. Then DSS is called and the newborn is put into protective custody.

Often the term “abandonment” is used to describe the surrender of the child, which Ullman says can be misleading. “Abandonment does certainly make it sound like there is some prosecutorial side to this, or some sort of trouble that the parents could get in. There is not. Truly the family just surrenders the child.”

Then DSS legal team works to make that child available for adoption. From start to finish, officials say the process takes about four to six months.

This year alone, three children have been surrendered under Daniel’s Law to authorities South Carolina.

The child left here at Trident was a 7 pound, 6 ounce, and 21 inch long black male. As Daniel’s Law requires, he was immediately placed under DSS protection.

According to the law, babies can be surrendered at hospitals like Trident, outpatient facilities, as well as places of worship. They can also be taken to EMS, police, and fire stations.

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