Baby Safe Surrender, there is
an option, don’t abandon your baby

January 04, 2015
Columnist

Hardly a day goes by that tragic news doesn’t slam our senses. Nothing shocks like the tragedy of child abuse in any form. How can major injury and death befall a child at the hands of an adult they trust?

 One area that is especially hard to comprehend is the intentional abandonment or discarding of a newborn to cause its death. We likely know only of a few of the actual deaths of babies because most discoveries are accidental as the babies are found in dumpsters or in isolated areas. 

 We must educate ourselves on the Safely Surrendered Baby law and its simplicity. This law responds to the increasing number of deaths of newborn infants due to abandonment. First created in January 2001, the law was signed permanently into state law in January 2006. The law’s intent is to save lives of newborn infants at risk of abandonment by pleading with parents or persons with lawful custody to safely surrender the infant within 72 hours of birth--no questions asked.

 If a mother can carry a child to its birth, and still feels life with this infant is too hard, there is only one thing she has to do. Surrender the baby to the local fire station.

 Many of our firefighters are fathers, and all of them are trained in infant care. The station has all it needs to immediately care for an infant until it can be transported to the local hospital.   Chaplains are available to meet with the mother or father if they are willing to be comforted.   From January 1, 2001, to September 30, 2014, 669 newborns have been surrendered in California. There were 57 newborns surrendered in 2014 through September 30. The State Department of Social Services is currently working to improve data gathering and statistics for abandoned infants in order monitor the effectiveness of the law.

 Safe surrender sites are hospitals or other locations, typically fire stations, that are approved by the board of supervisors or fire agency in each county.  Safe surrender sites are required to display the blue and white logo. The toll-free number for other safe surrender locations in Ventura County is 211.  This hotline was established by the United Way of Ventura County as a clearing house for hundreds of resources available in the County.

Although a person surrendering a baby under the Safely Surrendered Baby Law will be asked to complete a medical questionnaire, the form is optional and is intended solely for the purpose of collecting medical information critical to the health and survival of the child. Any information that may identify the person surrendering the baby will be removed in order to maintain that person’s confidentiality.  The form is available in English, Spanish, Chinese and Russian.  The website is www.babysafe.ca.gov





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