Mother abandons baby at New Hampshire hospital; foster care next step

Posted June 01, 2012, at 6:39 a.m.

PORTSMOUTH, N.H. — The newborn baby dropped off at Portsmouth Regional Hospital early Saturday morning remained there this week. Although the boy is reported to be in good health, questions now center on what’s next for the child’s future.

According to Maggie Bishop, director of the New Hampshire Department of Children, Youth, and Families, the situation usually follows a certain procedural system.

Bishop would not comment specifically on the Portsmouth case, but did state that DCYF will attempt to find and contact the mother in a case similar to the one that occurred at Portsmouth Regional Hospital.

Generally, DCYF has a 6 month window to locate the mother — if contact is made, the organization will work with the parent in a legal manner to determine the child’s future guardianship.

As Bishop noted, this is the ideal way to handle abandoned infant cases as they bring about a sense of closure to the parties involved.

If DCYF is unable to reach the mother, appropriate steps will be taken to find the best situation for the child down the road.

The child may remain at the hospital for a brief period before being released to the state. If the state is still unable to find the mother, the child would most likely be placed in foster care. From here, the state would work to get the child into an adopted home. Under New Hampshire’s Safe Haven Law, infants under 7 days old are legally allowed to be left in safe locations such as hospitals, churches, and police or fire stations.

Within 24 hours of receiving the child, officials at the safe location must alert police and Department of Health and Human Services officials that the baby is in their custody. From here, appropriate measures will be taken to determine the child’s future.

Only 2 to 3 cases have occurred in NH since the law came into effect in 2003.

(c)2012 the Foster’s Daily Democrat (Dover, N.H.)

Distributed by MCT Information Services

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