NEWAYGO COUNTY, Mich. — Neighbors who said that they discovered a newborn baby on the side of the road on Monday morning also said the baby’s teenage mother watched all the commotion from her home across the street.
“She actually was outside when we found the baby, because she was over feeding her dog,” said neighbor Kathleen Neal.
Neal’s father discovered the infant sitting naked on a pile of grass, she noticed her teenage neighbor watching what was going on, she said.
“[The girl] kept looking over here, and that kind of made me suspicious. And when I hollered at her and waived her over here and told her and then asked her if she knew of anything or saw anything, and she said, ‘No,’” said Neal.
Investigators asked neighbors if anyone in the area was pregnant, and that’s when officers started to focus on the teenage girl, Neal said.
Neal said that officers spoke with the teen inside her home before taking her away in an ambulance.
“She didn’t say anything to anyone when she came out onto the stretcher,” Neal said. “She covered her face as she came by everybody. We are not going to shun her. We are not going to hate her.”
Since 2001, Michigan has had the Safe Delivery of Newborns Law, which allows a mother to surrender, without penalty, a newborn under 72 hours of age to a police station, fire department or to a hospital.
Spectrum Health Gerber Memorial Hospital in Fremont told us employees are taught how to handle an infant surrender.
“We train in all policies upon orientation and also annually for these types of events, so we are very secure in making sure the infant is safe and well taken care of,” said Barb Wainright, director of patient safety and quality risk manager for Spectrum Health Gerber Memorial Hospital.
Michigan law says the mother must surrender the baby inside, and the person she gives the baby to must be in uniform displaying a name badge and identify themselves as an employee.
Gerber Memorial said that, while it’s rare that an infant is surrendered at their facility, it’s still an important eventuality for which staff is always prepared.
“Naturally, we will follow this law as it is written to keep that newborn safe and to get it to the appropriate location it needs to be,” said Wainright.
The teenage girl’s father said he knew his daughter was pregnant after the baby was rescued, neighbors claimed.
The baby girl’s condition is unknown, but witnesses said the she seemed to be in good health aside from a few scrapes.