Parents of abandoned newborn may have violated safe haven law
NORTH VERNON, IN (WAVE) - Police are searching for the mother of a newborn baby found abandoned near a Jennings County church.
Officers said the baby was near full term and appeared to be in good health.
According to the Department of Child Services, the Indiana Safe Haven Law allows a person to give up an infant anonymously without fear of arrest or prosecution as long as there are no signs of intentional abuse.
An Indiana "Safe Haven" location is considered a hospital emergency room, a fire station or a police department. A church is not listed, so even if the intentions were good, the parents of the abandoned child are not protected under state law, which allows a baby to be dropped off within 30 days of birth.
North Vernon police said they believe baby boy Doe was less than 48 hours old when he was found outside of a church near its trash cans. Wrapped in blankets, he was alive and breathing. Police quickly turned their focus to finding his mother.
"Obviously, there are some ongoing medical issues that might need to be taken care of for the mom, some trauma, bleeding, possible infection concerns," Sgt. Andrew Richmond said.
Police can't say with certainty who left the baby at Christ's Way Christian Church. A hospital is less than a mile away and a fire department sits just around the corner.
Inside Choices for Women in New Albany Executive Director Rose Condra knows how overwhelming becoming a parent can seem at first.
"Our goal would really be to offer a safe haven before a safe haven law needs to come into place," Condra said.
That's why her staff is here to help as soon as expecting parents find out.
"(We) kind of talk them off the ledge, so to speak, like all of that stress and to kind of help them step back from the situation and be able to look at it objectively ... (not) when they are in panic mode," Condra said.
Condra said she believes awareness is key, both for programs like Choices and the Safe Haven law.
"Mom probably felt like these are Christian people, surely they are going to take care of my baby," Condra said. "But I'm sure there was a better way for that to take place and she probably just didn't know, and no one in her life probably knew because it doesn't get the publicity it needs."
Anyone who can help North Vernon police locate the mother should give them a call.
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