At first, 9-year-old Elysia Laub thought the pink limbs she saw wriggling in her grassy Indiana back yard were those of a little pig.
“We have two pigs,” the girl told WISH-TV. “I thought they had a baby or something.”
It was late Monday morning, the summer heat already climbing. Still unsure what she’d stumbled upon, Elysia ran inside.
“Mom,” she said. “There’s something in the yard.”
The two ventured back outside, where between a field and a row of trees, Heidi Laub saw what her daughter had discovered: a newborn baby.
“I thought it was a robotic doll,” Laub told NBC Chicago.
She scooped the baby, a little girl, into her arms and told Elysia to call 911, the TV station reported, then wrapped the infant in a new blanket.
“That’s when I realized the placenta was still attached,” Laub told WISH-TV.
In an interview with NBC Chicago, Laub added that also attached was the umbilical cord, and both were covered in maggots.
At a news conference Monday, Lake County Sheriff John Buncich said it’s likely the baby was born only hours before she was discovered. She may have been there overnight, the sheriff said. She was found wrapped in a black towel.
“The officers that are involved are really taking a really personal approach to this,” Lake County Sheriff John Buncich said at the news conference.
Authorities have nicknamed her “infant Jane Doe” and their “miracle baby.” The sheriff called Elysia the infant’s “guardian angel.” The baby, with brownish-blond hair, was taken to a local hospital where medical staff evaluated her and determined she was healthy, full-term and in good condition, aside from being sunburned.
Despite an extensive search with police dogs and a helicopter, the abandoned baby’s mother has yet to be located. The child will be placed in foster care.
At the news conference, the sheriff emphasized Indiana’s safe haven law, also known as a Baby Moses law, which allows a parent to anonymously give up an unwanted infant legally and safely. The child must be no more than one month old and can be taken to a number of sites, like hospitals, police and fire stations.
All 50 states, and D.C., have similar laws in place, largely due to the influence of former President George W. Bush, who signed the first Baby Moses bill into law in 1999 when he was the governor of Texas. Over a 10-month period that year, 13 babies were abandoned in the city of Houston. Three of them were found dead.
Earlier this year, the first round of climate controlled baby boxes — incubator-type holding compartments where parents can leave their children — were installed in cities across Indiana. The effort was led by Monica Kelsey, a volunteer firefighter and antiabortion advocate who was abandoned as an infant by her teenage mother.
The small box, embedded into the side of safe haven drop-off locations, are padded and kept at a comfortable temperature. Once the baby is placed inside, the box notifies emergency responders within minutes.
“This is not criminal,” Kelsey recently told the Associated Press in May. “This is legal. We don’t want to push women away.”
In an interview with Fusion last year, Dawn Geras, president of the Save Abandoned Babies Foundation, estimated that since the first safe haven law was passed nearly two decades ago, nearly 3,000 babies have been legally relinquished.
At Monday’s news conference in the case of infant Jane Doe, the sheriff praised the 9-year-old girl, who had been playing in the yard when she spotted something in the grass.
“At first I thought my brain was playing tricks on my ears, and I looked over and I just saw these legs kicking and I thought, ‘Is that a pig?’ ” Elysia Laub said.
The Laub family said the discovery was an act of God.
“I really think everyone needs to say a prayer for this mother,” Heidi Laub told CBS 2 in Chicago. “She’s probably not a bad person, but probably really scared and needs help.”
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