POSTED: Thursday, January 22, 2009 - 7:54pm
UPDATED: Thursday, April 8, 2010 - 1:41am
LAWRENCE, IN - Indiana police say they've found the mother of a newborn who was left on the doorstep of a Lawrence home Wednesday morning.
The newborn baby girl was left in an athletic shoebox, her legs sticking out in sub-zero temperatures, with a note attached: "I can't take care of my baby. Please help."
The mother is a 17-year-old student at a local high school.
Police say the student told a high school counselor what happened.
A woman found the precious package on the porch of a home on Clemdale Avenue in Lawrence.
In weather that has grown adults shivering under their hats and coats, the newborn, believed to be just a few hours old, was left in a shoebox outside, with only a blanket and a few T-shirts to keep her warm in single-digit temperatures.
Bernice Pellan and Sue Jackson took photos of the little girl after making the unexpected discovery.
"We held her feet in our hands to try to warm them," said Jackson. "Bernice brought the baby in and put the box on the floor and called 911."
"There's a baby on the porch," Pellan told the 911 dispatch operator.
"I'm sorry?" the operator said.
"Somebody has left a baby on the porch. It's got a cord on it and it's alive."
"You pull in and you see a baby lying there and its feet kicking. Sue thought it was a doll," said Pellan, who spotted the baby.
The homeowner's dogs had been barking earlier in the morning, but the baby lay undiscovered until friends arrived.
Investigators believe the baby was on the porch for at least 45 minutes, perhaps as long as an hour, in temperatures around 14 degrees with a wind chill around zero.
The baby, whose legs were kicking outside the box, was rushed to Riley Hospital for Children.
She is expected to make a full recovery.
"I just can't imagine doing that," said Pellan. "I don't know what she was thinking. I know she had to be desperate but to leave it in the cold?"
Indiana has a safe haven law which allows "the mother of a newborn to take her child to an emergency room, a police station, or a fire station anytime within the first 45 days of birth and turn the child over, no questions asked," said Bob Floyd of the National Safe Haven Alliance. "The law is just so easy to take advantage of."
In this case, police say, a young mother put her baby at risk and now risks criminal prosecution.
The 17-year-old mother got a routine hospital exam before police took her to the juvenile center.
She'll be formally charged in the next few days.
The teen told detectives she chose that particular home to abandon her child because she lived nearby and knew the resident would likely be home during the day.