When a Mother Chooses to Give Away a Newborn

Do safe-haven laws that let women abandon their infants actually protect babies or encourage parents to desert them?

The baby now named Tessa Leavitt was born in a motel bathtub on the night of June 18, 2005. Her mother cleaned her, breast-fed her and cut the umbilical cord herself. The next day, the young Hispanic woman swaddled the infant in a white towel and took her to Fire Station 15 in Whittier, Calif., where she rang the doorbell and told the firefighters, "I want to give up my baby." When the paramedics arrived 30 minutes later, she put the child on their gurney and left. "It was eerie," recalls firefighter Kevin Cull. "The ambulance went off in one direction, and...

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