A woman gave up her baby just hours after giving birth at Lodi Memorial Hospital this week, saying she couldn’t afford to care for another child.
Lodi police said the 28-year-old was already raising two other children.
She is one of the growing number of women making the decision to surrender newborns under California's Safely Surrendered Baby Law.
“We’d much rather see the parent, if they decide that they can’t probably care for the child, take it to the hospital,” said Sgt. Dale Miller of the Lodi Police Department.
People in the community were shocked that someone would give up their baby, but a representative for the hospital said surrenders aren't rare. They happen much more frequently than people realize.
“I can’t imagine,” said Karla Chavez, a Lodi resident.
Chavez is the exact same age as the mother who surrendered her newborn. She's also the mother of four.
“I think we are grown ups and we need to be responsible for what we do,” Chavez said.
Like Chavez, many people in the community struggle with the concept of surrendering a child.
“It’s sad she couldn’t or didn’t probably seek help. Maybe there was means she could keep her baby, but I think that was the safest for the baby,” said Noemi Barron, a Lodi resident.
“That sounds like an easy way out to me,” said Tom Saco, a Lodi resident. "It’s better than abortion, I guess.”
Under the law, a parent may surrender a baby at any hospital or safe-haven location, which are clearly marked with a sign portraying a hand holding a baby inside of a house. Fire stations serve as safe havens.
The number of babies surrendered under California's law has been increasing since it took effect in 2001.
That first year, only two women surrendered their babies. Last year, 52 women did. In the first quarter of this year, 16 women have surrendered a newborn. At that rate, the number of women utilizing the law will surpass any other year.
“It’s so sad that that can happen,” Chavez said.
Police said for the child, it’s a happy ending.
“The child is in the best care it can receive right now," Miller said. "It’s not being left in a Dumpster or a cardboard box."
The baby was taken by Child Protective Services.
Parents have 14 days to change their mind after surrendering their baby.
While the parent’s identity will be kept confidential, whoever is surrendering the baby must at least make contact with someone at the safe haven, or a dropoff will be considered abandonment.
This article originally appeared on KCRA.com.