California's family law system provides little-known remedies for parents who may not be ready to fill the role of parents. Intended to deter the abandonment of children by panicked new parents, the "Safe Surrender" program allows parents to drop off a newborn child with no risk of prosecution. While the program may have saved many children from abandonment, it has also created new problems.
A fire station in Oceanside reported that a mother in her mid- to late-20's surrendered a newborn baby boy on Sunday, June 10. She reportedly said that she wanted to put the baby up for adoption. Firefighters described her as "heartbroken," but "calm and cooperative." She stayed at the station to complete an optional health questionnaire, which will help the state and potential adoptive parents understand the child's medical needs. Authorities took the child to a hospital for a checkup, but firefighters said he looked healthy. News media reported that this was the second baby surrendered at the Oceanside station in the past eighteen months.
California created the Safe Surrender program in 2001, reportedly in response to a growing number of infant abandonments and deaths. Governor Schwarzenegger signed a bill permanently including the program in state law in 2006. According to the California Department of Social Services, 407 infants were surrendered in the first ten years and three months of the program. Another 151 newborns were reportedly rescued after illegal abandonment.