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Woman abandoned baby to hide birth from partner, police say

February 22, 2012 | 11:04 am

Photo: Long Beach resident Sonia Hernandez shows the spot at a gas station where she purportedly found a newborn child. Police later said her story was false. Credit: KTLA-TVA woman gave away her newborn baby because she wanted to conceal the birth from her female romantic partner, Long Beach police said.

After giving birth to a girl at a home Monday, Paloma Espinoza, 28, of Long Beach, handed off the infant to her mother, Sonia Hernandez.

Hernandez then called 911 and gave a false report that she found an abandoned baby in the parking lot of a nearby gas station, and took the girl home, police said. In fact, the baby was never at the gas station, said police Sgt. Rico Fernandez.

Fernandez said the birth mother "apparently felt unfit to continue to care for the child because she felt she was more interested in protecting her relationship with another woman."

"She claims she didn't know she was pregnant. So when she gave birth, she didn't want her partner to know about it, so she delivered the kid to her mom," Fernandez said.

No arrests have been made, but police are continuing to investigate a case that they plan to submit to the L.A. County district attorney's office for possible criminal charges.

Espinoza is being investigated on suspicion of child neglect, child abandonment and child endangerment; Hernandez is suspected of providing a false report to police.

The investigation into the alleged child endangerment concerns actions the mother took between the time the baby girl was born and the time she was given to the grandmother. Fernandez declined to elaborate what actions the mother allegedly took during that time.

The baby is doing well at a hospital, and will eventually be handed over to the custody of the county child welfare agency.

Women have the option to hand over newborns delivered in the last 72 hours to hospitals or fire stations without danger of being prosecuted, as long as the child has not been abused or neglected. In Los Angeles County, people can call (877) 222-9723 find the nearest "Safe Surrender" site.

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-- Rong-Gong Lin II

Photo: Long Beach resident Sonia Hernandez shows the spot at a gas station where she purportedly found a newborn child. Police later said her story was false. Credit: KTLA-TV

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