Safely surrendering a newborn

REDDING, Calif. - Jessica Bradford, the mother accused of killing her newborn baby by withholding nourishment, admitted to investigators she had planned on giving the baby up to a safe surrender site, before changing her mind.

Bradford told investigators she Googled ‘safe surrender sites' on her cell phone. She said she even chose a Chico hospital. She put the baby in the car, and started driving there, before turning around. She told investigators she didn't want anyone to know that she'd given birth.

"There's no questions asked," explained Mike O'Dell, emergency department working director for Mercy Medical Center in Redding.

The intent of the Safely Surrendered Baby Law is to keep the identity of the child's guardian completely confidential.

"This option gives people a chance to make sure their baby has a shot at a good future," said O'Dell.

There are forms that a mother or guardian can choose to fill out. But,  O'Dell explained, the sole purpose of those is to get medical information on the baby's health. No information on the parent is required.

The California state law was passed in 2001, and signed into law by Governor Schwarzenegger in 2006 to prevent any possible harm or death to newborns.

"No harm will come to the child. This [is for] a parent who feels, perhaps, they're not capable of caring for a child at this point in their life. It gives the baby an opportunity to be placed with parents that are capable to love and take care of the child," explained O'Dell.

Under the Safely Surrendered Baby Law, a parent can safely surrender their baby confidentially, without the fear of prosecution within 72 hours of birth.

A guardian also has the option to change their mind if they feel they can take care of the baby.

"There have been cases where folks have surrendered their baby safely and they had a little time to think it over and maybe discovered they did have the resources to care for it. So in that case, they have 14 days to come reclaim their child," said O'Dell.

A baby being safely surrendered by their guardian can be taken to designated hospitals and fire stations all across the state.

All 50 states in the U.S. have similar laws.

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