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Mother surrenders newborn son at ER in Glendale

July 6, 2010 |  2:19 pm

A mother who said she could not care for her newborn son surrendered him at the emergency room at a Glendale hospital Friday evening. The boy was the third child given up this year in Los Angeles County under the state's "safe surrender" program.

The baby is expected to be placed in a foster home of a family chosen from a list of people approved by the Department of Children and Family Services' adoption division, according to Cathy Walsh, the safe surrender specialist for the Los Angeles County Inter-Agency Council on Child Abuse and Neglect.

The mother filled out a medical questionnaire about the baby at the hospital so that there will be background health information on the child.

Anyone with legal custody of a baby can hand the child over to a person (the baby can't be simply dropped off), at a hospital or fire station in Los Angeles County within 72 hours of birth -- without ramifications. The parent remains anonymous.

"No name, no shame, no blame," said Deanne Tilton Durfee, executive director of the Inter-Agency Council. To further protect the parent's identity, the hospital is not named either. The parent also has 14 days to decide to reclaim the child, according to Walsh.

Two other babies have been surrendered this year. One was given up at a fire station in Los Angeles and another at a hospital in Montebello, Walsh said.

Last year, there were seven babies given up. Since 2002, 79 babies have been surrendered through the program, with a high of 15 in 2007. No infants were surrendered in 2001, the year the law allowing parents to anonymously give up their newborns went into effect.

"The word needs to be out there that there is a recourse, there is a resource," Durfee said, adding that the mothers have often not received prenatal care or have been hiding their pregnancies. "They need to know there's a better alternative than hiding the baby or placing the baby in a dumpster or something worse."

-- Carla Hall

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