Increase in number of infants surrendered safely under Daniel’s Law in South Carolina

The law allows parents to surrender their child to a safe haven in order to prevent dangerous or fatal abandonments.

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WOLO) – South Carolina saw the highest number of infants surrendered under Daniel’s Law in 2022, according to the Department of Social Services. Daniel’s Law allows parents to safely surrender their unharmed infants up to 60 days old.

Daniel’s Law went into effect in 2001 after an infant was found in a landfill in Allendale County who was nursed back to health. The law has since allowed parents to surrender their child to a safe haven in order to prevent dangerous or fatal abandonments.

According to Connelly-Anne Ragley with the Department of Social Services, says infants being surrendered are rare in South Carolina but in 2022 the state saw its highest number with seven infants. 

“We unfortunately have seen occurrences where new parents being so overwhelmed and not knowing what to do or where to turn next unfortunately will harm the infant, maybe they leave it somewhere, maybe put it in the bathroom in a toilet, put it in a dumpster, put it in a trash bag, burying it in the woods, or maybe unfortunately taking the life of a child,” says Ragley.

The most recent surrender happened this month in Columbia at Prisma Health. Ragley says the Department of Social Services took custody of the newborn and placed her in foster care. 

“I think the more that we can do to help moms with resources and help women with resources in our community the better it is. Typically when they get to this point they feel like they don’t have any other options but also what I want women to know from my standpoint as a physician is we are also here to help her, so while she’s dropping off that baby there’s a whole team of OBGYNs that are willing to see her make it through that as well,” says Doctor Kerry Sims with Prisma Health. 

“At DSS, we celebrate mothers and parents to safely surrender their child. Unfortunately the state statute does use the word abandon but we like to refer to it as a safe surrender because essentially that parent is making a courageous and incredible choice not only for themselves but for that child and their future and as well as that family that’s going to be able to adopt that child,” says Ragley. 

Ragley also says there is no shame or no judgment toward parents, only help.

“No matter how many times I get the phone call that an infant has been safely surrendered I get goosebumps because to think about the decision that mom is making and that choice that parent is making  . . it should not be taken lightly,” says Ragley. 

Categories: Local News, News