Baby Love Child banner

Yet another “safe haven” failure, Newborn abandoned in Virginia

I don’t make a point of blogging all the various abandoned newborns articles that go by with regularity.

This story is what might be considered somewhat regional to me, though, and it makes a good case study of how such child abandonments get used by others.

Yesterday morning, a newborn was left outside a Catholic Church in Springfield, Virginia.

See, Newborn found in church parking lot from the Washington Post,

A newborn girl was left in the parking lot of a Springfield Catholic church just before Mass on Sunday, and police were trying to find the mother.

The baby was found about 6:30 a.m. when a patron of St. Raymond of Penafort Roman Catholic Church, at 8750 Pohick Rd., noticed a bag in the parking lot. The infant, thought to have been just hours old, was inside. The patron called for help, and the baby was taken to Inova Fairfax Hospital.

“She had probably only been there for a few minutes,” said Officer Shelley Broderick, a Fairfax County police spokeswoman. “She is in good condition and will be at the hospital for several days for tests.”

Fortunately, there is a great deal of concern for the Mother’s health, an aspect all too often overlooked if not outright ignored in these kinds of cases.

“Detectives are concerned about the health of the mother,” Broderick said. “The child obviously was not born in a hospital, and it’s possible she could have delivered the child on her own.”

The Virginia legalized child abandonment law leaves a fair amount of wiggle room.

Wiggle room that can be utilized by those who want the “safe haven” concept to cover child abandonments at non-specified locations to count kids as “safe haven saves” who otherwise would not meet the Virginia law’s criteria. (Emphasis added by me.)

It was unclear whether the mother would face criminal charges. Broderick said the baby was left outside and unattended, rather than in the church or another safe location. Virginia law allows parents to leave a child who is less than 14 days old at a hospital or rescue squad as long as the baby is left “in a manner reasonably calculated to ensure the child’s safety.

Media throughout the DC area have been abuzz, see for example this from last night Update: Newborn Found Outside Springfield Church Still in Hospital

She said the baby was discovered by an alert church member who found the duffel bag placed under a light pole, where parishioners passing by could find it. The church member immediately contacted the police.

Caldwell said this type of infant abandonment is very rare in the county.

“Once the baby is released from the hospital, the Department of Family Services is involved,” Caldwell said. “I can’t give any more details on that but we are in contact with them and we were immediately in contact with social workers from that agency.”

Just as we see in any child abandonment case here in the U.S. in no time, the phone calls from wanna-be-adopters began pouring in.

Caldwell mentioned that the police have received calls from the public volunteering to take the child. She said that the care of the child is not a police issue.

Fortunately, the “primary concern” at this point is for the mother and her health. Some states have all but ignored the health of Mothers in these cases, Virginia, on the other hand, apparently understands the implications of having given birth presumably outside of medical care and the potential threat that poses to the woman herself.

“Our primary concern is identifying the mother because most likely she is in need of medical attention,” Caldwell said. “We really can’t say at this point whether or not there would be any charges against her.”


Investigators determined that the baby was left outside for only a short time before she was found and appears to be in good condition. Doctors who examined her said that the baby is full-term, is possibly of Hispanic descent may have been born between midnight and 6 a.m.

The baby was not delivered in a hospital. Detectives are concerned for the health of the mother and the baby. If you have an idea of who the mother is or saw a person or vehicle around the parking lot of the church between 6 and 6:30 a.m., please call police at 703-691-2131 or contact Crime Solvers by phone at 1-866-411-TIPS/8477. You can also e-mail at or text “TIP187” plus your message to CRIMES/274637. 

Never ones to see a child abandonment as anything other than an opportunity for self promotion, the local catholic infrastructure has gone into high gear promoting their pregnancy and newborn interception apparatuses.

The catholic diocese of Arlington, for example immediately saw this as an opportunity to  issue a “reminder” of their programs geared towards collecting as many children for (catholic) adoptions as possible.

Naturally, the “resources” they point towards are “project gabriel” the multi-parish birth instead of abortion effort begun in the Galveston-Houston diocese of  Texas over 35 years ago in which catholic churches team up to obsess over pregnant women in an effort to push them to bear to term (and if at all possible, convince her to surrender the resultant child for adoption.)

Their second “resource” is of course catholic charities’ center for adoption services. No surprise there, as their “alternative” to child abandonment is immediately adoption (preferably though catholic charities placing the child with a suitably catholic couple.)

They then offer a click through to a donation page for some of their anti-abortion efforts: project rachel (their “post-abortion ministry used to recruit women to their anti-Roe and Doe lawsuits and be local ‘voices against abortion’) and catholic charities center for adoption  and pregnancy services. Every child abandonment, an opportunity to fundraise.

All of these are of course but pieces of the broader catholic anti-abortion effort.

Put simply,  they see an opportunity to capitalize upon such unfortunate circumstances. One woman’s misery, the catholic church’s gain.

In every child abandonment, they see dollar signs.

That, and opportunities for framing and cooptation to reinforce their narrative both internal to their own spaces and extending outward into the broader culture.

Thus, now that local news is all abuzz with this rare occurrence,  the church in question, St. Raymond of Penafort Roman Catholic Church, enjoys the free advertising, and quickly slaps a statement, Our New Found Baby Mary, up on the website.

The baby is of course, not “theirs” to name or redistribute to whomever they please, but that never stops a church like this from stepping in and presuming to “name it and claim it” (to use a protestant, “word of faith”/”prosperity gospel” turn of phrase.)

Our hearts and prayers go out to this baby, whom I have unofficially named “Mary Madeleine,” placing her under the special care of our Blessed Mother and of St. Mary Magdalene, patroness of so many troubled women. The parish has been flooded with offers to assist Baby Mary in so many ways, and I am edified by all of these. (I am also happy to collect more!)

The statement gives lip service to reuniting the mother with her child, and vague promises of “standing by her” should she happen to come forward, but primarily she is praised not so much as an individual, but as a useful symbol for giving birth and bringing the child to the church.

But our hearts and prayers also go out to “Baby Mary’s” mother. What dire straits she must feel herself to be in that would make her leave her baby with us like this. And yet, can’t we see here also tremendous love, and courage, enabling her to see through her fears and not only allow her baby to be born, but then to try to bring her to someone who would care for her—Holy Mother Church.

If any of you know anything about this mother, please either talk to me, or to the police, or encourage her to do so. I can’t speak for the police, but I just don’t think anyone really wants to see this poor woman punished. It seems to me that the main concern is for her wellbeing–especially her physical heath. And to reunite her with her baby, if possible.

I promise her that she will find many friends at St. Raymond’s, beginning with me. Friends who will stand by her in the days, weeks and months ahead, and not abandon her to her troubles. And friends who will help defend her in the remote case that some legal action is attempted against her.

Naturally, the retelling is infused with their angel theology as a form of self reinforcement.

On Sunday morning, November 14, right before the 7am Mass, a parishioner noticed a small gym bag that was laying unattended by the light post near the Groveland Drive entrance to the parish parking lot. After dropping his family off at the front of the church, something told him (perhaps a guardian angel?) to investigate.

Not the least bit surprisingly, “angels” and what catholics term “Angel spirituality” are front and center to the project gabriel efforts (See this how to guide out of Dallas for example.) Thus by framing the story this way, it serves as reinforcement of the broader anti-abortion narrative to those far beyond those directly involved in these events.

In every child abandonment, the catholic infrastructure sees an opportunity for self reinforcement, increasing anti-abortion activism and commitment, and donation collection.

That’s what abandoned little girls are good for, to them.


Leave a Reply