February is Safe Surrender Awareness Month and the Department of Human Services is hosting events all month long to highlight safe practices for anyone making the difficult choice to give up their child.
The first Safe Surrender of 2020 has already happened this year. And in 2019, five babies were safely surrendered. First signed into action in January 2001, the Safely Surrendered Baby Law is meant to save lives of newborn infants at risk of abandonment by encouraging parents to surrender the infant with no questions asked.
"Since 2006, 77 babies have been surrendered in Kern County and that is 77 lives saved because who knows what would have happened if they didn't. That just shows the community is listening and they want to help those children," explained Alexandra Triolo of the Department of Human Services. "The process for surrendering a baby you have to do it within 72 hours of the baby's birth and the baby cannot be injured. In this process is a moniker: no shame, no name, no blame. That mother can surrender her baby and then the baby is kind of taken into that pre-approved adoptive home, but the mother has 14 days to decide if they want to reclaim that baby."
The surrendered baby and mother will be given a matching band for those 14 days and in the event the mother changes her mind, social services will have to make sure the home is a healthy environment for the baby.
"Something about this that is important to know is they can't leave that baby on the door step or the porch or the entrance to the hospital. It physically has to go into the arms of hospital personnel or fire personnel."
Mothers can look for the Safe Surrender signs which can be found on the front of hospitals and fire stations that receive safe surrenders.
"This law is for mothers that are in crisis and feel like they may not have another option and taking that courageous step to surrender that baby to the arms of hospital personel or to fire station personel."
The month of February will be dedicated the Safely Surrendered Baby Law and will have events throughout Kern County to raise awareness.