D.C. police and child protection officials continued their search yesterday for the mother of an infant girl abandoned Friday on the porch of a Northwest Washington home as dozens of callers offered to provide money, clothes or a home for the baby.
Carolyn Smith, a supervisor at the Department of Human Services child and family services division, said she had talked by telephone last night to a woman who might be the mother. Smith declined to provide details about either the call or the caller, and police said only that their investigation is continuing.
The 6-pound, 14-ounce baby was wrapped in pieces of a sheet and blanket when she was found by Lester Lewis, 21, an employe of the Washington Convention Center, on the porch of his home on Rock Creek Church Road NW as he was leaving for work about 7 a.m. Friday.
The baby, believed to be only a day or two old when she was found, is in the Children's Hospital nursery. "The child is perfectly healthy and normal," said Carl Rogers, associate director of the hospital's child protection division. A hospital spokesman said the baby--the youngest to be abandoned in the city in recent memory--has gained four ounces since she entered the hospital.
Rogers said if the mother comes forward to reclaim the baby, officials would aid her in getting help to care for the child. If the mother does not want to keep the baby, Rogers said, "it would still be in the child's best interest for the mother to come forward so the child can be placed under adoption services."
Without parental approval of adoption, the baby would be placed in court custody, Rogers said. A child in this situation could remain in a kind of legal limbo for as long as 18 months while the court completed the process of termination of parental rights and placed the child with an adoption agency.
"The courts are reluctant to terminate parental rights until it is very clear" that nobody is going to come forward to claim custody as a parent, Rogers said. With the mother's approval, however, the baby could be placed for adoption within a matter of days.
Rogers said that the city's child protective services office had been "deluged" with calls from people who want to donate clothing or adopt the infant.
Rogers said hospital workers reported that a woman wearing a large hat, raincoat and sunglasses came to the hospital Saturday morning and asked to see the baby. But when officials asked her for identification, she left quickly, Rogers said.
"There's a supposition that this might have been the parent or a relative," Rogers said. He said a woman later called the hospital and said the child should be named Charity. But officials could not get her identification.