Newborn left at church is doing fine

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 27, 2000

ERIK SANZENBACH / L’Observateur / June 27, 2000

GARYVILLE – Thanks to a Garyville woman who takes daily morning walks in front of St. Hubert’s church, an abandoned newborn boy is safe andsound.

Marcia Beard was walking past St. Hubert’s Friday morning around 6:30when she heard the sound of a baby crying in the doorway of the church.

“As I got closer, I knew it was a baby,” said Beard. “I never dreamed Iwould find a deserted baby.”When Beard walked up to the church doors she found the newborn caucasian boy wrapped in a towel. According to Beard the umbilical cordwas still attached, and he was spotted with blood on parts of his body.

“Someone did try to clean him off,” said Beard. “His face was totallyclean.”Beard flagged down a car in front of the church, and the driver called the St. John Sheriff’s Office.Beard stayed with the infant until deputies and an ambulance arrived. Thebaby was then rushed to River Parishes Hospital.

“There were no visible injuries on the baby,” said Capt. Mike Tregre of theSt. John Parish Sheriff’s Office. Sean Roussel, spokesman for the River Parishes Hospital, confirmed the good health of the infant.

“He’s in beautiful shape,” reported Roussel. “Mainly he was cold and inneed of plenty of TLC.”Roussel said the baby was released Monday afternoon into the custody of foster parents. He believes the two parents are going to adopt the child.”It is a sad story,” said Roussel, “but it looks like it will have a good ending.”Jennifer Ledbetter of the Louisiana Department of Social Services said her department is working with local law enforcement officials to try and find the mother.

Tregre said, “If and when we find her, she will be charged.” Tregre said he would consult with the district attorney’s office on the charge, but said it would probably be child desertion.

However, Tregre wants the mother to know that authorities really want to help her.

“We are not trying to scare her. We are not looking to put her in jail,”Tregre stressed. “We just want to help her.”According to Ledbetter, the unknown mother could have given up her baby legally and avoided endangering the infant and legal prosecution if she had known about the “abandoned baby” law recently passed in the Louisiana Legislature.

The law states that within 30 days of birth a woman can bring her baby to certain designated locations and give up the infant without fear of arrest or prosecution.

The law was enacted after a newborn infant was found in a dumpster in New Orleans about a year ago. Legislators wanted to make sure unwantedbabies were not placed in peril because the mother was afraid of breaking the law.

The legal designated areas where a woman can leave her baby are Louisiana-licensed hospitals, public health units, fire stations, police stations and pregnancy crisis facilities.

“Unfortunately, this woman dropped her baby off at a church, which is not legal,” said Ledbetter.

Beard, a nine-year resident of Garyville and a mother herself, said the incident has had a profound impact on her.

“I’ve been emotionally distraught since this happened,” said Beard. “Thishas really torn me up, but I know in my heart that God wanted me to find that baby. I just did what any other person would do.”

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