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Dave Olson, Published January 20 2009

Babies abandoned in North Dakota, Minnesota doing well

Identity, motivation of parents unknown

Police in Grand Forks, N.D., were still searching Monday for the mother of an infant girl who was found abandoned at a fire station Saturday morning.

Sgt. Bill Macki said it was his understanding that the infant was in good condition.

A spokeswoman for Altru Hospital, where the child was taken Saturday morning, said she could not release information about the case, or even confirm whether the child was at the hospital.

A firefighter shoveling snow outside the station found the girl in a cardboard box about 7:30 a.m. Saturday.

The box was left on top of an electrical transformer.

Police want to learn more about the circumstances surrounding how the baby got there, as well as the condition of the mother.

Under North Dakota’s “Safe Haven” law, a parent or agent of a parent can leave a young child at a hospital without facing charges if the child is dropped off in an unharmed condition.

Minnesota’s law is similar.

An infant who was left abandoned at Lake Region Hospital in Fergus Falls Dec. 8 was dropped off in a manner conforming to the law, according to Brad Vold, Otter Tail County Social Services supervisor.

Vold said the county is in the process of terminating the parental rights of the infant’s mother and father, who are not known.

He said the child is living with a family that is planning to adopt him once the parental termination is final.

Vold said the natural mother can challenge the adoption up until the point it is finalized by a judge.

He said it is hoped the parental rights termination and child adoption proceedings can be wrapped up within five months.

Vold said in cases that don’t involve “Safe Haven” abandonment, the process of terminating parental rights and adoption can take up to two years.

In the recent case in Fergus Falls, if a parent of the abandoned child challenges the adoption, proceedings would be placed on hold until a judge evaluates the parent’s ability to care for a child, said Vold.

Kate Kenna, regional director of Northeast Human Services in Grand Forks, has said that the baby girl found Saturday morning also could be placed on an adoption track, but she said more investigation may be necessary to determine whether the mother willingly gave up custody.

Police said a male voice was heard shortly before the baby was found.


North Dakota Readers can reach Forum reporter Dave Olson at (701) 241-5555