A newborn child was safely surrendered in Santa Monica last week thanks to the County’s Safe Surrender Program.

The baby boy was surrendered at a local hospital on Dec. 8. The same day, a baby boy was also surrendered at a hospital in Whittier. The double drop-off was unusual and officials said they couldn’t remember another instance of two children surrendered on the same day.

Under the program, anyone with legal custody of a child can drop off the baby at a hospital or fire station within 72 hours of birth. Whoever surrenders the child is asked to fill out a voluntary and anonymous medical history to help provide medical care but the form is not required. The adult is given an I.D. bracelet that matches one fastened to the baby’s ankle to allow the adult to reclaim the baby within 14 days of surrender should they change their mind. Surrendered children are given a medical exam, placed in a safe home and are eligible for adoption.

The program is designed to protect the lives of babies born to parents who are unable to care for them. The Dec. 8 cases are the 17th and 18th Safe Surrenders in Los Angeles County in 2015, and the 141st and 142nd since the program began 14 years ago.

Over the program’s 14-year history, 77 babies have been abandoned and of those only 19 have survived. An abandoned baby recently made headlines after police officers found the child buried alive in Compton. The Compton child survived and its mother was charged with attempted murder and child abuse.

The program was initiated by Supervisor Knabe and approved unanimously by the Board of Supervisors in 2001.

“I am thrilled to hear that both of these mothers made the right choice by safely surrendering their babies,” said Supervisor Knabe. “Safe Surrender, an idea born from tragedy, has grown into a truly life-saving, and life-giving program. Though we’ve been able to save the lives of 142 babies so far, we need to continue spreading the word that there is a safe, secure and anonymous way for mothers, who find themselves in a desperate situation, to get their baby into safe hands—at any fire station or hospital, any time — and protect them from abandonment — No Shame. No Blame. No Names.”

The program is deliberately anonymous and surrender sites do not collect any information from the adults. Adults that surrender a child face no repercussions and officials said the system is designed to encourage overwhelmed parents to surrender their child in a way that maximized the baby’s chance for success.


Matthew Hall

Matthew Hall has a Masters Degree in International Journalism from City University in London and has been Editor-in-Chief of SMDP since 2014. Prior to working at SMDP he managed a chain of weekly papers...