• Attorney: Newborn left at Orlando apartment complex can't be adopted until mother is found

    By: Jason Kelly

    Updated:

    ORLANDO, Fla. - A search continued Friday for a mother who police said abandoned a newborn girl last week at an Orlando apartment complex.

    Investigators said the baby was found on Oct. 6 in a stairwell at the Willow Key apartments on South Kirkman Road near L.B. McLeod Road.

    Read: Mother sought after abandoned newborn found at Orlando apartment complex

    Read: Georgia man accused of killing 2-week-old daughter to remain jailed

    The baby, who was born that day, was clothed and was found with a note that included a plea that the girl be taken to a fire station, Orlando Police Department spokeswoman Michelle Guido said.

    "The baby... was determined to be in good health," Guido said. "We are trying to locate the baby's mother and have concerns for her safety."

    Watch: What are 'Safe Haven' laws?


    Learn about "Safe Haven" laws below:


    Police said they want to make sure the mother is OK, but WFTV legal analyst Bill Sheaffer said there’s more to it than that, especially since there’s a $1,000 reward to help find her.

     

    “Secondarily, law enforcement may be concerned about the mother, but their primary focus is to hold her accountable,” Sheaffer said.

     

    He said the mother could face a felony and up to five years in prison.

     

    “Florida has designated areas where you can drop a child off if you do not want that child, where you know the child is going to be safe and cared for. A stairwell is not one of those locations,” Sheaffer said.

     

    Read: Deputies seek to identify parents of newborn left on Orange County patio

    Florida's "Safe Haven" law allows anyone to leave an unharmed baby within a week of birth at a hospital or a staffed fire station without being prosecuted.

    A Safe Haven for Newborns in Florida -- an organization that seeks to prevent newborn abandonment -- said that last week's incident was the first of its kind this year.

    Putting the child up for adoption is complicated by the baby's mother not following the Safe Haven Law, adoption attorney Nicole Moore said. 

    "If the goal was to provide a forever family for this child, it definitely wasn't the quickest and most effective mechanism," she said.

    The baby's mother has to be found before the state can take legal custody of the baby and until then the girl may end up in foster care, Moore said.

    "Unfortunately, the route that was taken in this case, because it didn't comply with Safe Haven, it might not provide the expedited permanency and a forever family for this child," she said.

    Read: Police: Mother released from jail; no signs of 'Baby Willow'

    Orlando Police Department
    Orlando Police Department

    Watch: 9 facts about 'Safe Haven' laws

    So far, 16 newborns have been left at "safe havens" this year, the group said.

    Anyone with information about the mother's whereabouts is asked to call Crimeline at 407-423-8477. A $1,000 reward is being offered.

    Click here or call 877-767-2229 for more information about A Safe Haven for Newborns.

    Read: Police: Orlando woman accused of abandoning 'Baby Willow' pregnant again

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