In a moment of crisis, a woman who is soon to give birth can panic and make a desperate but deadly choice—to abandon her newborn child. This woman has another option. In California, a woman can safely surrender her child to any hospital or fire station within 72 hours after birth. She is now making a choice of safety for her child, confidentiality for her, she receives legal protection from charges of abandonment or endangerment and she has 14 days to reclaim her baby. This is called Safe Surrender.
With one simple statement, “I would like to Safely Surrender my baby”, the process begins to protect both the birth mother and her baby. Matching bracelets are given to the baby and the parent. The Parent is given a Voluntary Medical Questionnaire, but she is not required to complete it. This would simply give the medical personnel attending the infant a medical background to better serve the child. The baby is examined and provided any medical treatment needed, then the baby will be placed in a foster-to-adopt home, where he/she will receive love and care. While the baby is cared for, the birth parent has 14 days to consider parenting. If she decides to parent, she must bring the coded bracelet to the site she surrendered the baby, or she can call 1-877-222-9723. The County Child Welfare Services will verify the identity of the individual with the bracelet, assess parent’s circumstances and ability to care for the child and if considered safe, will return the child to the birth parent. If the parent does not claim the child within the 14 days timeframe, the Child Welfare Agency will begin the process to terminate parental rights and the adoption process can begin immediately.
Since 2016, California has reported 843 children who have been Safely Surrender into loving homes; safe to grow and be loved. This also represents 843 birth mothers, who courageously chose to surrender their child into the safety of a hospital or fire station, without shame, without blame. This act of courage is celebrated by us all. For more information regarding Safe Surrender, please visit the Safe Surrender website at www.babysafe.ca.gov or https://www.kcdhs.org/services/child-protective-services/safely-surrender