Tragedy in Carrollton Serves as Safe Haven Reminder

Police continue to investigate the discovery of an infant's body inside a flower pot at a cemetery in Carrollton. A caretaker at Perry Cemetery found the six pound girl with the umbilical cord still attached on March 3. As of Thursday, police were still working to identify the child.

While the medical examiner works to determine if the child was born alive, the case serves as a reminder of the state's Safe Haven law, also known as the Baby Moses Law, and the options for families who can't care for an infant.

"It's something that's a very caring step to take, something you can do without any questions being asked, without any risk of criminal prosecution or anything coming back on you," said Texas Department of Family and Protective Services spokesperson Marissa Gonzales.

The law allows families to legally surrender a baby 60 days old or younger if the unharmed baby is given to a staff member at any hospital, freestanding emergency medical care facility, fire or EMS station.

Children surrendered are then fast-tracked for adoption.

"If you feel like you're not ready to take care of that baby for whatever reason, you can hand them over to someone who can take care of their immediate needs - knowing their future is going to be bright because they'll be able to be with a family that has already been waiting for them," said Gonzales.

Texas DFPS reports 218 illegal abandonment cases of children in 2018 with 56 of those cases reported in the North Texas district.

The statistics don't detail how many of the children were alive or their ages.

DFPS said over the last five years, 59 babies were safely surrendered under the Safe Haven law. Sixteen of those infants were in the North Texas district.

"There have been 59 babies who have been safely surrendered under the Safe Haven law and if you think about what the alternative could be, those lives could have been lost," Gonzales said.

In Carrollton, the cemetery where the infant girl was abandoned is a mile from Fire Station 1.

If the infant was born alive, Carrollton Fire Department Assistant Fire Chief Debbie Carpenter said the child would have received care without any questions asked.

"We understand the fear you're going through, we understand you are scared, you might not be able to care for this baby," said Carpenter. "We realize that and are giving you the hope that someone will care for your infant."

Texas adopted the Safe Haven law in 1999. Since then, Carpenter said awareness may have dropped but cases like the most recent in Carrollton should serve as a reminder that there are options for parents.

"It's an absolute tragedy, most of our members in our department have children of their own," Carpenter said. "To not have the opportunity to help somebody, as we weren't given in this case, is particularly heavy upon all of our minds."

There is a hotline to call for more information.

The Texas Baby Moses hotline: 1-877-904-SAVE.

Anyone with information about the baby left at Perry Cemetery, should call Detective Jennifer Cackler at 972-466-3324.

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