“Some parents of newborns can find themselves in difficult circumstances,” said a Los Angeles Sheriff last week after his department responded to a call involving a baby found buried alive. The newborn baby girl was estimated to be only 24 to 36 hours old, and was cold to the touch when discovered. Responders said the girl would not have survived if left in those conditions overnight. The newborn was found by two passers-by in a crevice along a bike path, buried under rubble and debris.
In a statement, the Sheriff’s Department said that babies are “sometimes harmed or abandoned by parents who feel that they’re not ready or able to raise a child, or don’t know there are other options,” noting that fear coupled with lack of information can result in tragic outcomes. But, like all states, California has Safe Haven laws designed to provide recourse to parents who feel unable or unwilling to care for their children. These laws allow children to be placed by their parents with public servants. In Los Angeles, the Safe Surrender Program would have been a safe and life-affirming alternative for the little girl found buried alive. “All [parents]have to do is cross the threshold of any fire station, any hospital, any sheriff’s department in Los Angeles County,” explained LA County Supervisor Don Knabe, “and they are safe. The baby’s safe.”
Pro-Life, pro-woman advocate Serrin Foster took to social media to urge mothers to seek out alternatives to abandonment and violence when they feel unable to care for a child. “If you have hidden your pregnancy and feel you are all alone,” she said, “you are not. You are carrying a child that is dependent on you, and you must find help. And there IS help! Go to your local pregnancy resource centers, and adoption agencies. As a last resort, you can drop off a newborn at a hospital or fire station in many states.”
Foster directed parents to Baby Safe Haven, which provides Safe Haven information for each state. Depending on the state, babies can be placed at various locations for anywhere from several days or weeks after birth, to up to one year. In Texas, for example, babies can be placed at a hospital, an EMS provider, or with a child welfare agency for up to sixty days after birth. Within these perimeters, the law protects parents surrendering their children from the legal ramifications that would ensue after harming or unsafely abandoning a child.
“You deserve better than knowing the rest of your life that you have thrown away your own child,” said Foster. “Your child deserves loving parents. That could be you or you may decide adoption is better option for you and for the child. The fear you feel is nothing but a feeling. Feelings change. The reality is that you can find the strength you need and the help you and your baby deserve. Find it. It takes just one call and you will replace fear with relief.”