Baby boy born at Lewiston hospital abandoned

Posted July 09, 2011, at 5:18 a.m.

LEWISTON — A boy born May 31 at Central Maine Medical Center has been abandoned under the state’s Safe Haven law, which has been used sparingly since it took effect in 2002, a Department of Health and Human Services spokesman said Friday.

The child is referred to as “Safe Haven Baby Boy” in a legal notice in the Sun Journal on Friday, which also says “the parents of the child are unknown.” The notice gives them time to step forward to request a hearing and legal counsel or risk losing parental rights.

In Maine, parents can leave a baby less than a month old with police, hospital staff or medical service providers without repercussion. The person receiving the baby can ask about the date of birth and medical history but can’t detain the parents or contact them in the future.

The legal notice says where the baby was born but not when or where he was left. Police Lt. Mark Cornelio said to his knowledge, police weren’t involved. A call for comment to CMMC wasn’t returned.

“The Safe Haven law assures that the court file is sealed and all information regarding the case is protected,” DHHS spokesman John Martins said. “[It] has been rarely used in Maine, with less than a half dozen cases since the law took effect.”

The baby remains in state custody. DHHS policy is to place the boy with a family willing to adopt him or to work toward reunification if the parents come forward. His case is scheduled for a hearing in front of Lewiston District Court Judge John Beliveau at 2 p.m. Sept. 8. It will be Beliveau’s third Safe Haven case since the law took effect. The last was in 2009. He said Friday he couldn’t comment, citing the statute.

Former state Sen. Marge Kilkelly of Dresden, who sponsored Maine’s law, told the Sun Journal in 2009 that her bill saw a lot of debate, with legislators wondering how often babies would be left.

“If it saves a child’s life and also supports what, for some parents, is the best decision they can make, it’s done its job,” she said at the time.

See more news from the Sun Journal at http://www.sunjournal.com/.

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