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Woman gave newborn away to keep birth news from partner, police say

The girl was handed off to the Long Beach woman's mother, who filed a false report that she found the baby abandoned at a gas station, police say. There have been no arrests, but an inquiry continues.

February 23, 2012|By Rong-Gong Lin II, Los Angeles Times

A woman gave away her newborn baby because she wanted to conceal the birth from her female romantic partner, Long Beach police said.

After giving birth to a girl at a home Monday, Paloma Espinoza, 28, of Long Beach handed off the infant to her mother, Sonia Hernandez. Hernandez called 911 and gave a false report that she found an abandoned baby in the parking lot of a nearby gas station and took the girl home, police said. In fact, the baby was never at the gas station, said Sgt. Rico Fernandez.

Fernandez said the birth mother "apparently felt unfit to continue to care for the child because she felt she was more interested in protecting her relationship with another woman."

"She claims she didn't know she was pregnant. So when she gave birth, she didn't want her partner to know about it, so she delivered the kid to her mom," Fernandez said.

No arrests have been made, but police are continuing to investigate a case that they plan to submit to the district attorney's office for possible criminal charges. Espinoza is suspected of child neglect, child abandonment and child endangerment; Hernandez is suspected of providing a false report to police.

The investigation into the alleged child endangerment concerns actions the mother took between the time the girl was born and the time she was given to the girl's grandmother. Fernandez declined to elaborate on those actions.

The baby is doing well at a hospital and will eventually be handed over to the custody of the county child welfare agency.

Women have the option, within 72 hours of a birth, of handing over newborns to hospitals or fire stations without danger of being prosecuted, as long as the child has not been abused or neglected. In Los Angeles County, people can call 1-877-BABY-SAFE to find the nearest "Safe Surrender" site.

ron.lin@latimes.com

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