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Helpline: 1-877-222-9723

Baby Safe Surrender Program

Some parents of newborns can find themselves in difficult circumstances. Sadly, 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. Many of these mothers or fathers are afraid and don’t know where to turn for help. This is why California has a Safely Surrendered Baby Law, which gives parents or guardians the choice to legally and safely surrender their baby at any hospital or fire station in Los Angeles County, no questions asked. Since the program was launched in LA County, over 250 infants have been safely surrendered.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Click the entries below to see answers to frequently asked questions about the Baby Safe Surrender program.

What is the Safely Surrendered Baby Law?

The state of California passed the Safely Surrendered Baby Law to give parents or guardians the choice to legally and safely leave a baby three days old or younger with an employee at any Los Angeles County hospital or fire station, no questions asked. The parent or guardian may surrender the baby without fear of arrest or prosecution for child abandonment. For more information about the law itself, please see the legislation passed on August 1, 2003 which strengthened the existing Safely Surrendered Baby Law.

How to Surrender a Baby

The Safely Surrendered Baby Law gives parents the choice to legally leave their baby with an employee at any Los Angeles County hospital or fire station at any time, no questions asked.

If you think this is the right choice for you, here’s what you need to do:

  1. Go to a Safe Surrender site (at any Los Angeles County hospital or fire station) and give the baby to an employee within 72 hours of the baby’s birth.
  2. Fill out a voluntary and anonymous medical history form (or take one home and mail it back later) to help provide medical care for the baby.
  3. Obtain an I.D. bracelet that matches one that will be fastened to the baby’s ankle. The bracelet will help you get the baby back if you change your mind (you have 14 days from the day of surrender).

No other questions will be asked.

For more information, please call 1-877-222-9723

Who is legally allowed to surrender the baby?

Anyone with lawful custody can drop off a baby within the first 72 hours of birth.

Do you need to call ahead before surrendering a baby?

No. A baby can be surrendered anytime, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, as long as the parent or guardian surrenders the child to an employee of the hospital or fire station.

What information needs to be provided?

The person surrendering the baby will be asked to voluntarily fill out a medical history form, which is useful in caring for the child. The form can be returned later and includes a stamped return envelope. No names are required.

What happens to the baby?

After a complete medical exam, the baby will be released and placed in a safe and loving home, and the adoption process will begin.

What happens to the parent or surrendering adult?

Nothing. They may leave at any time after surrendering the baby.

How can someone who has surrendered get the baby back?

Parents who change their minds can begin the process of reclaiming their baby within 14 days by calling the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services at 1-800-540-4000.

Is it possible to adopt a surrendered baby?

Families who want to adopt a safely surrendered baby must be an approved Resource Family which means that the family can take in both children in need of foster care and children in need of long term permanence like adoption. There are many families that want to provide loving homes for these babies. While the process may involve long waits, adopting a child can be a rewarding experience.

The requirements for adopting a child can be met through the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) or a local foster family agency that is also licensed as an adoption agency. DCFS can be contacted at 1-888-811-1121 or via their website at https://dcfs.lacounty.gov/caregivers/adoption/. To work through an agency, please ensure that the agency is contracted with DCFS.

What if parents are unsure what to do . . .

You can call our toll-free hotline at 1.877.BABY SAFE (1.877.222.9723).

The hotline is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. (English, Spanish and 140 other languages are spoken.)

How can I receive materials about Baby Safe Surrender?

There are a variety of materials, including a Baby Safe Surrender brochure, available for download below. If you’d like to have information mailed to you, please contact Jeremy Huang at HuangJ3@dcfs.lacounty.gov.

What opportunities are available for safely surrendered children?

In 2014, the Don Knabe Safe Surrender Scholarship Fund was established to provide scholarships for children safely surrendered in LA County. The Safe Surrender Scholarship Fund is administered by the Long Beach Community Foundation. Youth who were adopted as a Safely Surrendered Baby are eligible for the scholarship. The scholarship may be used for any purpose toward higher education, including trade school, community college and a four-year university. An Eligibility Verification Letter is sent to the adoptive family of a Safely Surrendered Baby at the time of finalization of their adoption. When the youth is 17 years old, the adoptive parents of the Safely Surrendered Baby may present the letter to the Foundation as verification of eligibility in the application for the scholarship.

If you have questions about the scholarship, please contact the Long Beach Community Foundation at (562) 435-9033 or you may wish to visit longbeachcf.org.

An anonymous woman hands a baby to an LA County firefighter in a poster for the Safe Surrender program.
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