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Abandoned Newborn Found In Toilet Could Move to Adoption Quickly

Greenville Times

February 08, 2011

Greenville police investigators are reviewing Bi-Lo Center surveillance video in hopes it will lead to the person who left a newborn boy in the cold water of a ladies’ room toilet about the time a circus performance was winding down, authorities said.

“There were certainly a large number of people at the Bi-Lo Center that night, so it’s going to be a difficult task,” Sgt. Jason Rampey said.

Detectives believe the baby was abandoned as Friday’s show was ending or when crowds were leaving the arena, Rampey said. An employee found the child suffering from hypothermia about 90 minutes to two hours later, he said.

Police are hoping the mother will step forward or that someone will speak up about a formerly pregnant woman who can’t account for her baby.

If no parents are identified, “The child could move fairly quickly through termination of parental rights and into adoption,” said Virginia Williamson, general counsel for the state Department of Social Services.

If police find the parents, DSS would have the option of trying through Family Court to keep custody, she said.

“There may be some faultless father out there — we just don’t know,” she said.

The agency would have to prove grounds for terminating parental rights before the child could be adopted, Williamson said.

Officers took the child into emergency protective custody when they responded to the arena, Rampey said. The boy was in critical condition when he was taken to Greenville Hospital System Children’s Hospital, Rampey said.

The hospital has declined to release an updated condition, citing a federal health law.

Eleven children were released or abandoned under “Daniel’s Law” from 2006 through 2010, according to Marilyn Matheus, a DSS spokeswoman.

“Daniel’s Law” permits parents or someone acting on their behalf to surrender a newborn less than 30 days old without threat of prosecution, provided the baby hasn’t suffered child abuse.

Newborns can be turned over at safe havens, such as hospitals, police stations, fire departments and places of worship that are staffed when the child is surrendered.

The child found at the Bi-Lo Center wouldn’t meet the Daniel’s Law criteria, Matheus said.

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