Where can you safely surrender a baby? Recent San Antonio incident shows need for more education

Crime Stoppers is looking for 2 young adults who left a newborn at a Northwest Side church on July 17

SAN ANTONIO – A Crime Stoppers flyer released Wednesday requested help with a rare case.

SAPD and Crime Stoppers are offering a reward for information that leads to two young adults who left a baby at Grissom Road Church two weeks ago.

On July 17 at 1 a.m., surveillance video at the Northwest Side church captured the two people leaving a basket at the back door.

Hours later, someone found a one-day-old baby boy, and a note. Police did not release details about what was on that note.

“They logistically did the right thing, but it was at the wrong place. And that right there, can get someone prosecuted,” said Pamela Allen, the CEO of Eagles Flight Advocacy, which holds funerals for abandoned or abused babies.

Allen and her staff have also spent years lobbying for the Baby Moses Law in the state of Texas.

The Baby Moses Law states that a baby can be surrendered with no questions asked, only if the baby is:

  • Within 60 days old.
  • Handed off at a fire station, hospital, or stand-alone EMS building.
  • Unharmed.

“Unharmed means this baby’s not going to come with broken bones, with bruises, drugged up. This is a baby that is unharmed and that’s very specific in the law,” Allen said.

Joe Arrington with the San Antonio Fire Department said the locations are specific for a reason.

“Where someone is there 24 hours a day, like a fire station or a hospital, where someone with medical training can immediately take care of that baby. So we can find out the medical background of what the baby needs. Was that a premature baby? Does the baby have drugs in its system?” Arrington explained.

What happened two weeks ago is a perfect example of why those locations are part of the law.

KSAT visited the Grissom Road Church Wednesday, and it was closed. No one was around, and like July 17, it was above 100 degrees.

“The biggest takeaway from it is to educate,” Arrington said.

Watch a PSA from Eagle Flights Advocacy and BCSO below:

At the front of fire stations and hospitals are yellow signs that say “Safe Haven.” Below those signs are buttons. Once pressed, a medical professional will come out and a baby can be handed over, no questions asked.

Come Sept. 1, the Baby Moses Law will also legally allow baby boxes to be installed at some local fire stations.

Those compartments contain cameras, will be temperature controlled, and connected to the building itself. When a baby is put inside and the compartment is closed, it will immediately set off an alarm and a medical professional will be there within minutes.

The plan for where those baby boxes will be placed in San Antonio is yet to be unveiled.

When asked about University Hospital’s Baby Moses protocol, they sent the following statement:

“Our protocol is that if a child is brought to us under the Safe Haven law, the baby is assessed in our pediatric emergency department and then transferred to the appropriate level of care. Our social worker communicates with Child Protective Services, and that agency determines placement.”

About the Authors:

Courtney Friedman is a KSAT anchor and reporter. She has an ongoing series called Loving in Fear, confronting Bexar County’s domestic violence epidemic. She's also covered Hurricane Harvey, the shootings in Sutherland Springs and Santa Fe, and tornadoes throughout Texas. She’s a California native and proud Longhorn who loves calling SA home.

Before starting at KSAT in August 2011, Ken was a news photographer at KENS. Before that he was a news photographer at KVDA TV in San Antonio. Ken graduated from San Antonio College with an associate's degree in Radio, TV and Film. Ken has won a Sun Coast Emmy and four Lone Star Emmys. Ken has been in the TV industry since 1994.