How To Surrender a Baby
What is the Safely Surrendered Baby Law?
The Safely Surrendered Baby law allows a parent or other person with lawful custody to surrender a baby 72 hours or younger confidentially, without fear of arrest or prosecution for child abandonment. The Safely Surrendered Baby law allows for at least a 14-day reclaiming period, which begins the day the child is voluntarily surrendered. During this period, the person who surrendered the baby can return to the hospital or fire station and reclaim the baby.
How does it work?
A parent or guardian, having lawful custody who is unable or unwilling to care for an infant can legally and confidentially surrender a baby 72 hours or younger to any designated fire station or hospital with an emergency room in California. A coded and confidential bracelet will be placed on the baby for identification to facilitate reclaiming. A matching bracelet will be offered to the person surrendering the baby. A baby can be safely surrendered 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
What information does a parent or person surrendering have to give to the staff taking the baby?
Nothing is required. The person surrendering the baby will be asked to voluntarily fill out a medical history questionnaire designed to gather family medical history, which would be useful in caring for the child. It is voluntary and up to the person surrendering the baby if they wish to give any additional information.
What if a person surrendering the baby wants to provide medical history but does not want to stay to finish the medical history questionnaire right away?
The form can be returned later and includes a stamped return envelope. No names required.
What happens to the baby after it's surrendered?
Safely Surrendered babies are given a complete medical exam, afterward, 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 person surrendering the baby?
Persons who safely surrendered the baby may leave any time after surrendering the baby without fear of arrest or prosecution for child abandonment. Their identity remains confidential. If during the cooling off period the person surrendering the baby decides they want to reclaim the baby, they can take the identifying bracelet back to the hospital, where staff will provide information about the baby.
What if it's past 14 days to reclaim the baby?
If a person who surrendered a baby changes their mind they will have to contact child protective services or a county agency providing child welfare services.
- In Los Angeles County, they can contact the Department of Children and Family Services at 1-800-540-4000.
- Outside of Los Angeles County, they can contact the Safe Surrender Hotline 1-877-222-9723 (1-877-BABY-SAF) 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.