Church Members Offer to Adopt Newborn Left in Manger

26 Nov 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Baby abandoned at New York City nativity scene. Does this happen often?.

NEW YORK — A mother who left her newborn baby in a Christmas manger inside a New York City church will not be prosecuted, authorities said Wednesday. “After a full review of all the facts and circumstances surrounding the discovery of a newborn infant this past Monday in a creche inside of Holy Child Jesus Church in the Richmond Hill section of Queens County — including locating and interviewing the mother — my office has determined that no criminal prosecution of the child’s mother is warranted,” Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said in a statement. The baby, a boy who weighed about five pounds, was taken to a local hospital by emergency crews and appeared to be in good health, Christopher Heanue, pastor of the Holy Child of Jesus Church wrote on the church’s Facebook page.

One solution, adopted in New York, takes a more compassionate approach, allowing parents who abandon newborn children up to 30 days old in a safe manner, such as leaving them at a hospital, church, or police or fire station when staff are present, to remain free from prosecution. An estimated 2,800 babies have been saved by such laws across the country, an Illinois nonprofit found, The Christian Science Monitor reported in April. But the law, known as the Abandoned Infant Protection Act, requires that the child be left with someone or for authorities to be called immediately. “It appears that the mother, in this case, felt her newborn child would be found safely in the church and chose to place the baby in the manger because it was the warmest place in the church, and further she returned the following morning to make certain that the baby had been found,” Brown said. But about 1,400 other infants have been abandoned illegally, with about two-thirds of them found dead, according to the group, Save the Abandoned Babies Foundation. Rocio Fidalgo, a spokeswoman for the Diocese of Brooklyn, said that from time to time, people leave unwanted children at its churches, though she declined to say how often this happened.

In Indiana, a statewide effort to install portable incubators where parents can deposit their babies at locations around the state was nixed this year by a state commission because of concerns about the cost and legal issues around using the boxes. The “baby boxes” would expand the state’s safe haven law, allowing additional anonymity because parents could deposit the infants without speaking to anyone. Parish officials said they had received well over a dozen messages in calls and emails from people around the country expressing interest in adopting the baby. Richmond Hill has a predominantly immigrant population, with large numbers of residents from the Caribbean and South Asia, as well as sizable numbers from Latin America and elsewhere.

Paul Cerni, the parish secretary, said that the shifts in the congregation’s demographics have vaguely mirrored those in the broader community, with a growing number of immigrants from predominantly Catholic countries of Latin America replacing those of Western European descent. “We should pray the baby gets a proper home,” said Heanue, who arrived at the parish in February and is in charge of its day-to-day administration. But baby boxes have proved controversial, especially in Europe, with a United Nations committee condemning them in 2012 as violating children’s rights to identify and maintain a personal relationship with their parents. Instead, they argued, countries should focus on providing resources about family planning, easy access to contraception and social support, which might prevent parents from resorting to the drastic solution of abandoning their unwanted children. “Baby boxes do not operate in the best interest of the child or the mother,” Maria Herczog, a sociologist and member of the UN’s Committee on the Rights of the Child told the Monitor in 2012. “Just leave your baby, these boxes seem to say.

But advocates, who range from an Indiana firefighter (a pro-life activist) to other human rights groups, argue that baby boxes are a last defense for women who feel they have no other option., “These women are, in general, victims of a lack of adequate social networks and state public services.

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