US

21-Year-Old Surrenders Newborn Baby at Los Angeles Fire Station

By GQ Pan

A 21-year-old woman surrendered her 2-hour-old girl at a fire station in Los Angeles’s Koreatown, fire department officials said.

The young mother brought the newborn child to Fire Station 13 in Koreatown at around 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 8, according to a Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD) alert.

LAFD spokesman David Ortiz told KTLA that the woman came up to the apparatus door and banged on it. Someone who heard the noise opened the door to find that she was with a baby girl born approximately two hours earlier. Firefighters took custody of the baby, and performed a patient assessment to determine that she was in good health, before transferring her to a hospital.

Ortiz told the news outlet that the infant will be placed in the custody of child protective services, and possibly be put up for adoption.

The child’s mother, who didn’t want to be identified, left the fire station after the drop-off.

“We are so grateful the young woman made the choice to use our station as a Safe Surrender location and ensure the health and well being of the child,” LAFD officials wrote in a Facebook post. “Please know, you never need to abandon a newborn child.”

Under California’s Safely Surrendered Baby Law that took effect in 2006, an infant can be safely surrendered voluntarily to designated locations by a parent or person with lawful custody within 72 hours of the birth. Fire stations and hospitals are typical Safe Surrender sites, because they are always equipped with trained medical staff to provide immediate care.

More than 930 infants were surrendered between Jan. 1, 2001 and Dec. 31, 2017, according to the California Department of Social Services. The department’s website says that data indicates a generally decreasing trend of abandonments since enactment of the Safely Surrendered Baby Law, from 25 cases in 2002 to five or less cases per year since 2010, representing an 80 percent decrease.

Beginning in Texas with the Baby Moses laws in 1999, all 50 states to this day have enacted their own infant safe haven laws, according to the U.S. Children’s Bureau. These laws in general aim to save the lives of newborn children who may be at risk for abandonment in unsafe locations, such as trash cans or public restrooms.

“If you’re out there and struggling with this, the fire station will accept the baby,” said LAFD’s Battalion Chief Scott LaRue in an interview with KABC. “There is no judgment. We understand it’s an emotional time, and we will make sure the baby gets the care needed.”