Abandoned babies often result from desperation

By Sunni Blevins - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Monday afternoon, a baby girl was found abandoned in a grocery bag in Chesterfield County. This comes on the heels of another high profile incident in Henrico when a baby boy was found in a yard just off Samara Drive the night of August 27.

In both cases, the infants will be okay but it's not always a happy ending. We hear about these stories because they make local and national headlines and most often there's a common theme.

"Very often what we see in this instance is that it's a very young mother, a teenager. Someone who is very scared, who doesn't want anyone to know that she has been pregnant or had the baby and this is an act of desperation; this is a mom who just does not know what to do--it may not be a young teenager, it could be someone in another situation, but that's often where we see these," said Dr. Cheryl Al-Mateen.

Dr. Al-Mateen is an Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Pediatrics with VCU Medical Center. She says cases like these make her think these young women aren't aware of Virginia's Safe Haven laws.

"That protects them from any type of abandonment laws and helps make sure the baby is in a safe place," she said.

Al-Mateen says in most of these abandonment cases it's a young, first-time, inexperienced mother who feels she has nowhere else to turn

"They feel like there is no one there to support them or to help them through this and this is the only thing that they can do," Al-Mateen said.

Remember, there are infant Safe Haven laws in Virginia that give you some options if you feel unfit to take care of your child. You can safely drop off your child within 14 days of birth -- no questions asked. After that, law enforcement may investigate the reason you left your child.

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