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East County News Service

January 6, 2015 (San Diego) -- In an effort to protect newborn babies from being abandoned in unsafe places or facing an even worse fate, California has a Safe Surrender Law.  Parents can bring their infant, up to three days old, to any fire station or hospital in California, as well as other designated sites. Parents are protected against prosecution as long as the child has no signs of abuse.

Under California’s Safe Surrender law, 57 babies have been safely given up since the law was enacted in 2001.  That includes 10 babies in San Diego County since 2008, when the law was amended to add fire stations as safe surrender sites.

A parent who chooses to give up a child at a safe surrender site does not have to answer any questions, but can provide information about their medical history, if they choose, to help their child have these important family health facts later in life. 

A person other than a parent can use the safe surrender option, if they have permission from the parent.  The parent or family member is given a coded bracelet that matches a bracelet on the baby.  A parent has at least 14 days to change their mind if they decide they want their baby back.  The baby is then put into a protective foster care situation and can later be put up for adoption.

Why might a parent choose the safe surrender option?   A teenager may have hidden their pregnancy and be afraid to tell their parents. Or a mother may seek to protect a child from an abusive partner, or be in dire financial straits or other circumstances that may prevent her from safely raising her child.

For more information including a list of safe surrender locations statewide, visit www.BabySafe.CA.Gov or in San Diego County, call 2-1-1.