No one can possibly understand what other mothers go through, especially those who find themselves giving birth to a baby only to realize they can’t care for them.
It’s one of the reasons we have something called safe surrender or safe haven laws.
In some states, they’re known as Baby Moses laws, named for the biblical figure whose mother reluctantly abandoned him in a basket near a riverbed after the Pharoah demanded that all male babies be thrown into the Nile in order to protect his power.
These modern laws give parents who are unable to care for their newborns for any reason a safe and legal way to give them up soon after birth, no questions asked. Depending on the state, it might be a hospital, police station, or fire station that serves as a safe place.
California’s Safe Surrender Law is precisely what saved the life of a newborn known as Naomi on a March evening in 2015. The law allows parents to hand their newborns over to the state anonymously within 72 hours of birth.
It might seem unthinkable to some, but these laws are in place to prevent abuse, infanticide, and horrible cases like the one in Stockton, California in which a young mother abandoned her unwanted child in a dumpster.
When Capt. Daryll Milliot opened the door to the Station 75 fire department in Santa Ana, California that evening, he never could have expected to see a mother waiting to hand over her newborn.
“I opened the door and the first words out of her mouth were, ‘I need to give you my baby,’” Milliot said.
He dutifully took the baby, who was 15 hours old and the men on duty – including Michael de Leon, Tyler Green, and Shawn Stacy — did their best to comfort the infant. She was the first infant to be surrendered to a fire station in Orange County.
“We did our best to compose ourselves, maintain professionalism and do what we needed to do,” de Leon said.
While they waited for the state social worker to pick her up, the firefighters fell in love with little Naomi, dubbing themselves her “unofficial uncles.”
At first, the firefighters thought the situation unthinkable but eventually realized that it was all for the good, considering the circumstances.
“The first thing that comes to your mind is, ‘How can you surrender your baby?’” de Leon said. “But then when you really think about what happened, it’s really heroic and brave to do it.”
Luckily for Naomi, Krysten and Kurt Snyder got the call that there was an infant in need of an immediate home.
“[The social worker said] there was a little girl that was a Safe Surrender, and that we needed to pick her up from the hospital in a couple of hours,” Kurt Snyder said.
Krysten Snyder recalls the whole experience as being surreal:
“It’s so crazy — one moment we say, ‘Yes, we are taking a baby,’ and the next moment you are packing the car up, making the list for Target of all the things you need to get,” Krysten said.
But Naomi now has a loving family: her parents, a brother that the Snyders were in the process of adopting when they got the call about Naomi, and an extended family of 4 “unofficial uncles.”
Naomi’s story making the news “is a great opportunity for us to tell her about her mom, and what a courageous thing she did,” Krysten Snyder said.
And Naomi is always happy to see her uncles.
“This is one of the few things in my 25 years of being a fireman that it’s just the greatest ending of the story,” Milliot said.
Be sure to scroll down below to see the story and footage from a visit the Snyders took back to the fire station with their family.
If you’d like to learn more about the U.S.’s Safe Haven laws, which differ by state, click here.
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