The newborn twins were perfectly healthy — “cared for, cleaned up and fed” — when their young mother brought them to a Hesperia, California, fire station, firefighters said.
Then the woman surrendered both infants around 8:30 p.m. Monday and left, the San Bernardino County Fire Department said in a news release.
Firefighters, the mayor and others are praising the young woman for a “loving” decision.
“I was amazed when I heard what this brave, young mother did for her babies,” said Laura Foss, spokesperson for the Rose of Sharon Pregnancy Resource Center in nearby Victorville, according to the Victorville Daily Press. “For this mother to take the initiative to surrender her babies shows just how much she really loves those babies.”
Firefighters used an ambulance to rush the babies to a hospital, where they were monitored, the department said. Before the mother left, she was offered — but refused — medical care. Firefighters also gave the woman details on how she can get her children back if she chooses.
“This is exactly why the Safe Surrender program was created,” Fire Chief Mark Hartwig explained in a statement, referring to a state law allowing mothers to give up babies younger than 72 hours without being prosecuted. “This young mother did the right thing by bringing her babies to the fire station. Regardless of your circumstances, the Safe Surrender program is a viable and loving option — no questions asked.”
The law is intended to dissuade mothers and other guardians from abandoning infants in unsafe places — public toilets, dumpsters or worse — that could harm them or even kill them, the department said.
After giving up a child, the person who surrendered the baby has two weeks to reclaim the baby.
San Bernardino firefighters posted about the young mother on Facebook, and the story has been shared more than 500 times as of Wednesday evening.
Firefighters said the county’s board of supervisors elected to make local fire stations safe haven sites in 2004.
And across California, struggling new parents have taken advantage of the program: From the beginning of 2001 to the end of 2017, 931 infants have been safely surrendered in the state — including 88 newborns in 2017 alone, according to the state’s department of social services.
State data shows 175 newborns were abandoned in that same time period, but only one in 2017. That suggests a decrease in abandoned newborns of more than 80 percent since the Safely Surrendered Baby Law was put in place in 2001, according to the state.
Hospitals are another common safe surrender site, according to a state fact sheet. People surrendering a baby aren’t required to give any information to those receiving the baby, but a voluntary questionnaire is offered seeking family health history, which “can assist in properly caring for the baby,” the fact sheet said.
So how would a mother get in contact again if she decides to reclaim a baby?
The person surrendering the baby is given a confidentially-coded ID bracelet that matches one put on the baby’s ankle, according to the state department of social services.
“Life is so precious,” Mayor Larry Bird said, according to the Daily Press. “Giving mothers this safe place prevents tragic deaths and injuries. Bless her for making this responsible decision.”