Our Los Angeles County firefighters in Gardena facilitated the safe surrender of a baby boy in March, the Inter-Agency Council on Child Abuse and Neglect (ICAN) announced Wednesday.
In most situations, a parent brings the baby to a fire station or hospital. Personnel at the location fill out the paperwork, including a medical history questionnaire, and give the parent a bracelet with an identification number. The baby receives a matching ankle bracelet with the same number in case the parent decides to reclaim the child.
In this case, the call to Fire Station 159 came in at about 11:45 p.m. March 10 via the Gardena Police Department, according to Fire Fighter Jacob Armendariz, one of the first responders on the incident. Firefighters were asked to provide first aid and check for injuries.
The mother told firefighters upon their arrival at a local motel that she didn’t think she could care for the little boy, who had been born March 9 at an area hospital, Armendariz said. The baby appeared healthy and did not seem to have any medical problems.
Because they didn’t know the call would become a Safe Surrender, firefighters had not brought the necessary paperwork—so they improvised, Armendariz said. They took the baby to a local hospital, where they filled out the paperwork and brought the packet back to the mother at the motel.
Despite its unorthodox nature, the call “shows the program works,” Armendariz said. “As long as you have a procedure to follow, it all works out. I think everybody in this (situation) did the right thing.”
This baby boy is the third safe surrender for 2015 and the 127th safe surrender since the law—which allows parents and anyone with legal custody to surrender an infant that is no more than three days old at a fire station or hospital, as long as the infant shows no signs of abuse or neglect—went into effect nearly 14 years ago.
The 128th Safe Surrender overall and the fourth this year occurred Wednesday morning, when a baby girl was safely surrendered at a Los Angeles area hospital.
“It’s hard to imagine anyone wanting to give up a child, but this mother bravely made the better choice for her baby girl—No shame. No blame. No names,” Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe, who spearheaded the passage of the Safe Surrender law, said in a news release. “Though we’ve been able to save the lives of 128 babies so far, we need to continue spreading the word that there is a safe, secure and anonymous way for mothers, who find themselves in a desperate situation, to get their baby into safe hands—at any fire station or hospital, any time—and protect them from abandonment.”
Both safely surrendered infants were put in protective custody and will eventually be placed with families approved for adoption by the Department of Children and Family Services.
For more information on the Safe Surrender program, visit babysafeLA.org.