Friday, July 25, 2003

Help offered for abandoned baby

The Associated Press

ELIZABETHTOWN - Residents have been offering their homes to an abandoned baby found in a hospital parking lot this week.

Local authorities and police say they've received dozens of calls from residents who are interested in adopting or foster parenting the baby girl.

Mike Jennings, a spokesman for the Kentucky Cabinet for Families and Children, said children cannot be placed with families unless they have been certified by the state as foster homes or adoption candidates.

"They shouldn't assume they can target a child, or this particular child," Jennings said. "It doesn't work like that. You can't shop for a particular child."

Meanwhile, police have no leads as to who abandoned the newborn, now known as Baby Jane Doe, early Tuesday.

Police said they want to talk to anyone who might have been in the parking lot of Hardin Memorial Hospital between midnight and 4 a.m. Tuesday.

"We think someone must have seen something, even if they don't think they did," said Sgt. Tim Cleary of the Elizabethtown Police Department.

A visitor at the hospital found the baby girl lying next to a vehicle just after 4 a.m. She was naked, wrapped in a bloody towel and still had part of her umbilical cord attached.

The 6-pound baby suffered from hypothermia, and remained in fair condition Thursday.

Police have no leads in determining the identity of the person who dropped off the baby. Authorities reviewed surveillance video, but said it revealed no useful information.

Abandoning a newborn is legal under the Thomas J. Burch Safe Infants Act, enacted by Kentucky's General Assembly last year. The law allows the mother of a child, or someone acting on her behalf, to give up the infant within three days of the child's birth to any hospital, police or fire station or emergency medical services provider anonymously.

However, the abandoner must contact someone to tell them that a baby has been left.

Because the person who dropped off Baby Jane Doe did not contact the hospital, he or she could be charged with abandoning a minor - a felony punishable by one to five years in prison.

Hardin County Attorney Ken Howard said he's not sure how he'll approach the case should the baby's parents be found.

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