Infants abandoned in dumpsters, back alleys, public restrooms, or parks make heartbreaking headlines whenever they are found. Only the decency of the homeless veterans, who so often find these children while looking for food scraps, saves the lives of the babies. Sadly, it is sometimes too late for the child, even though paramedics or police respond within minutes.
Please don’t throw away your baby!! If you can’t take care of your newborn and have nowhere to turn in Los Angeles, for example, take the infant to any L.A. County Hospital Emergency Room or Fire Station, and hand the baby to an employee. This will grant anonymity under the Safely Surrendered Baby Law. Don’t just leave him or her on the doorstep or in a waiting room. That would constitute abandonment and is illegal.
California’s Safely Surrendered Baby Law allows birth parents to give up their baby confidentially within three days of birth, without fear of arrest or prosecution, as long as the baby has not been abused or neglected. Medical personnel will only ask for optional health history information, in order to help the child. They will give you a bracelet that matches one placed on the baby, in case you change your mind within 14 days and want your baby back. You can go to http://www.babysafela.org for more information in Los Angeles County, or call toll free 1-877-222-9723 (1-877-BABY SAFE).
Texas was the first state to pass a “Baby Moses” law in 1999, although records show no babies were surrendered until the following year. Some 35 other states now have similar laws, although the time limits vary widely. Upon last checking, Texas allows 60 days from birth for the baby to be safely surrendered. There is some controversy over the laws, with opponents believing they actually encourage mothers to give up their babies. Nevertheless, the lives of more than 300 babies have been saved. That’s 300 precious souls able to grow up in adoptive homes, where they can be cared for and loved.
Be sure to pass along this information to anyone else you know, who may be panic-stricken because she’s just given birth, or check the Internet for the laws in another state.
© 2006 Shirley Ann Parker