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Create New Beginnings With the Safely Surrendered Baby Program

By IntFormalities
Updated on June 27, 2024
Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

Are you a new parent who is unable to raise your newborn and wants to legally enable other people or the government to care for them? The Safely Surrendered Baby Program is a government initiative that allows parents who are unwilling or cannot afford to take care of their new babies to surrender them anonymously. 

The program’s primary goal is to discourage people from abandoning their babies in unsafe locations, which may result in their death or health complications. We’ve curated this article to help you understand how the Safe Surrender program works in California. 

A sign displaying "Safe Surrender Site" for the Safely Surrendered Baby Program.
According to official government figures, 931 newborn babies were surrendered in California between January 1, 2001 to December 31, 2017.

What Is the Safely Surrendered Baby Program?

The Safely Surrendered Baby program is a government initiative supported by the Californian state Department of Social Services. This program aims to help you lawfully and safely hand over your newborn to a safe haven near you. 

How Does California’s Safe Surrender Work?

As provided in the California Health and Safety Code, there are legal provisions through the Safe Surrender Program for residents who want a safe channel for surrendering a newborn baby for various reasons. These include your inability to take care of the child due to financial challenges, mental health issues, unwanted pregnancy, unhealthy living conditions, and simply wanting to give the child a better life. 

Besides the federal and state governments, individuals, communities, and corporate organizations support the program. The Surrendered Baby law mandates that a lawful parent or guardian can anonymously surrender their child of 3 days or younger without fear of legal challenges. 

The Safe Surrender Process 

According to the Safe Surrender laws, all you have to do to safely surrender your baby is take it to any private or public hospital, a designated safe surrender location, or a supported fire station. 

During the process, the officials will put a bracelet on the infant and give you a matching bracelet for identification purposes. However, you have 14 days from the time you surrender to decide if you want to regain custody of your baby. 

Failure to do so within 14 days means you have terminated your parental rights and cannot get your baby back if you change your mind. You’ll also get an optional questionnaire to provide information about your health or medical history. You can request a free Safely Surrender Baby Kit to your home (with information about the process, the required coded ankle bracelets for the baby, and the optional medical questionnaire) by completing this form.

Who Is Eligible for the Baby Safe Surrender Program?

Any parent unable or unwilling to care for their newborn infant can opt for Safe Surrender. You don’t need a document when surrendering your baby unless you voluntarily want to provide your medical history or additional information about the newborn. However, the baby must be three days old or younger to qualify. The legally acceptable way to surrender your baby is to place it in a designated safe-haven baby drop-off box.

Safe Surrender officials offer additional support to parents who surrender their children through the program. These initiatives include emotional support and counseling, legal support, and access to necessary support groups. 

Safely Surrendered Baby Program vs Adoption

Though the Safe Surrender program is similar to adoption, they are different. In safe surrender, you automatically revoke your parental rights after 14 days, while you may choose not to relinquish your rights when putting your child up for adoption. 

Additionally, adoption allows you, the birth parent, to be involved in the entire process and choose your kid’s adoptive family. However, safe surrender doesn’t offer an open adoption process. Ultimately, the decision to choose between the Safe Surrender process or adoption depends on your preferences. 

Did you know that teenage parents can access a $100 bonus up to four times annually based on report card results and a one-off $500 bonus after graduating from high school or getting an equivalent diploma certificate? Learn more about how the Cal-Learn Program works here.

How To Adopt a Safe Surrender Baby in California

The government places safely surrendered babies in foster or pre-adoptive homes and accepts applications from individuals and families who want to adopt them. However, if you’re an individual or part of a family that wants to adopt and provide a loving home for the infant, you must be approved as a Resource Family. Afterward, you can contact a certified adoption agency and complete an adoption application. 

The information you provide during the process is strictly confidential. 

How To Find a Safe Surrender Site Near Me 

If you have a newborn baby that you don’t want or cannot care for adequately, abandoning the child is illegal. Instead, you can choose the Safe Surrender program to surrender it legally and give it a good shot at life. 

SHBB provides all the information you need about finding a safe surrender location in your county. You can follow this link to find approved surrender locations nearby. 

Remember that the age limit in California is 72 hours from the time of birth. 

Give Your Baby a Good Life

The Safely Surrendered program is the legally acceptable way of handing over your baby if you feel taking care of them personally is unattainable or unrealistic due to financial, medical, or mental reasons. 

If you have questions or need further help with the program in California, call the Safely Surrender toll-free phone number at 1.877.BABY.SAF or contact CDSS


1. Who does the CA Safe Surrender Baby Law protect?

The Safe Surrender Law protects babies from abandonment risks. The law allows unwilling parents to surrender new babies legally and anonymously. 

2. Where can you leave a baby you don’t want?

The Safe Haven law permits you to drop your new infant off at designated locations they consider safe. These include a public or private hospital, on-duty police station, adoption centers, and other stipulated sites.


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