A newborn was found abandoned in a trash can in a town called Country club Hills, south of Chicago, Illinois, on Sunday.
The baby boy’s 13-year-old mother wrapped the newborn in bloody jeans before leaving it in the outdoor trash can.
The baby was taken to nearby Advocate South Suburban Hospital and pronounced dead at 8:17 p.m.
The teenager told police that she didn’t know she was pregnant. Her name has not been released- likely because she is a minor- and was in hospital Monday morning.
When the baby was found, he was full term and only 4 pounds and 2 ounces. Newborns generally tend to weigh between six and eight pounds.
Found in the garbage around 7:00 p.m., the boy had to fend for himself through a very cold and snowy New Year’s Day, something that lawmakers and children’s advocates have been hoping to prevent.
In 2001, Illinois established its Safe Haven law which allows new mothers to drop their baby off anonymously at a number of designated locations- like police stations, fire houses, and college campuses- and have the children put up for adoption, no questions asked.
A group called the Save Abandoned Babies Foundation was instrumental in establishing the law, and, with exception of this latest incident, have been markedly successful.
Since the law was enacted, 64 newborns were abandoned illegally, not including this Sunday’s boy.
Of those 64 cases, 31 of the abandoned children died while the others were found and treated in time. Now that number rises to 32.
By contrast, 74 had been put up for adoption after being dropped off at the designated Safe Havens.
Dawn Geras established the Save Abandoned Babies Foundation after reading a news article about Alabama women abandoning babies in hospital emergency rooms.
She thought there was a way that she could make a difference in Illinois, which at the time did not have any abandonment laws. Now, theirs is considered one of the strongest Safe Haven laws across the states.
Dawn Geras’ sister Diane Jannetto is now the treasurer of the foundation, and when told of the latest incident, she was shocked at the age of the mother.
“That’s probably the youngest,” Diane Jannetto said when told of the 13-year-old mother.
After checking records, Diane Jannetto confirmed that in their organization’s statistics, they have never heard of a case of anyone younger than 14 years old abandoning a newborn in Illinois.
“The average age is 18-24 or something.
“It makes us all cry when we hear of a baby dying this way,” she said.
“It’s not necessary to die like that.”
The state’s law allows mothers to go to designated areas and hand their baby, who must be younger than 30 days old, over to an official at the location and the child will then be passed over directly to adoption agencies.
The only question the officials are allowed to ask the mother is whether or not she would like medical attention, and they are not able to ask for any personal information.
The biggest problems facing advocates like Dawn Geras and Diane Jannetto is education and awareness. Diane Jannetto said that many people have a misconception that churches are designated drop-off points but that is not the case.
“They’re just not staffed all day,” Diane Jannetto said, recalling a recent case where someone left a baby in a church parking lot.
“It’s always the awareness issue, that’s why we take every advantage we can to talk about it,” she said.