UPDATE: The mom of the little boy has been identified and is speaking with Detectives. Thank you all for the help in the investigation.
— Scranton Police (@ScrantonPolice) September 25, 2019
Earlier, authorities cited by WBRE/WBYOU said a woman contacted Scranton Police on Tuesday, Sept. 24, claiming she had been walking outside a Scranton laundromat when a stranger handed her a child.
The woman said the unknown female walked away after saying that the infant “would be better off with her,” Fox8 reported.
The woman informed authorities she did not know the mother’s identity, adding that she had been in the company of a man when handing off her baby.
Police appealed to the public for help locating the mother of the infant, who was described as being about 12-16 months old.
Help ID this 12-16m old child. Women left child @ 1400 blk of Mulberry St. Women is a light skin blk female, reddish brown hair. Was with a blk male, 6 ft tall, blk curly hair/pony tail. Anyone with info call SPD @ 570-348-4134, or anonymous tip @: https://t.co/IOti3y38uT pic.twitter.com/uYtcPrlYA7
— Scranton Police (@ScrantonPolice) September 24, 2019
The child had been placed in the care of the Lackawanna County Office of Youth and Family Services.
It is unclear whether the child has been returned to the mother’s custody.
Mother Drops Off 11-Month-Old Son at Houston Fire Station
The incident follows the case of a Texas woman who dropped off her 11-month-old son at a Houston fire station, reportedly out of fear for his safety.
The woman, who was not identified by name in a KTRK report, said she and her child had been turned away from a shelter.
She reportedly told the police she and the boy had nowhere to go and would have had to stay overnight in her car.
Two-year-old in the arms of firefighters after being left behind at station 68. The mom told authorities she was turned away from a shelter and had been living in her car. pic.twitter.com/6RhD7WSxVM
— Jeff Ehling (@JeffEhlingABC13) May 14, 2019
“We are going to be sleeping in the car, somebody going to come up with a gun, kill us, rob us,” she told the media outlet. “Either that or they will see me sleeping. A woman, guy, somebody will come by the car and say, ‘Oh, she sleeping in the car with her baby, we fixing to call the police.'”
The woman left the child at Fire Station 68 at around 3 a.m., according to the report, before returning about an hour later.
No charges have been brought against the woman, who claimed to be a victim of a domestic violence situation.
Texas ‘Baby Moses Law’
Parents unable to care for a child that is 60 days or younger can legally drop them off at fire stations, hospitals, and emergency centers in Texas under what’s called the Baby Moses law.
“If you have a newborn that you’re unable to care for, you can bring your baby to a designated safe place with no questions asked,” the Texas Department of State Health Services states.
Also knows as the Safe Haven law, the Baby Moses law “gives parents who are unable to care for their child a safe and legal choice to leave their infant with an employee at a designated safe place—a hospital, freestanding emergency medical care facility, fire station, or emergency medical services (EMS) station.”
The department notes that the parent’s identity will not be divulged and medical care will be provided to the baby.
Parents who leave their children with employees of designated safe places will not be prosecuted for abandonment or neglect.
Safe Haven Laws
Every state, including Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico, has similar laws to the Baby Moses Law in Texas, under which parents can safely and with impunity cede custody of infants. The specifics of the laws vary across states.
“The focus of these laws is protecting newborns from endangerment by providing parents an alternative to criminal abandonment, and therefore the laws are generally limited to very young children. For example, in approximately 11 states and Puerto Rico, only infants who are 72 hours old or younger may be relinquished to a designated safe haven,” according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.
The agency explains the reason for the enactment of the laws is “to address infant abandonment and endangerment in response to a reported increase in the abandonment of infants in unsafe locations, such as public restrooms or trash receptacles.”