Several people went to juvenile court yesterday claiming to be relatives of an abandoned baby girl found in an East Baltimore alley Saturday morning.
The Baltimore Department of Social Services placed the toddler in foster care after neighbors found her about 9 a.m. Saturday behind the 100 block of N. Wolfe St. in the Washington Hill neighborhood. The girl, thought to be about 1 year old, was in a stroller, wearing a pink-and-white hooded sweat shirt and blue jeans.
People saying they were relatives arrived at Baltimore Circuit Court as attorneys for social services asked a judge to formally place the girl in the department's care. The judge granted the department's request. The hearing was closed to the public.
Social services will determine whether the people who came forward are relatives, said Sue Fitzsimmons, a spokeswoman for the Department of Social Services.
"They will need to prove this with birth certificates or give other identifying information," she said.
The information would be presented before a judge, possibly next week. Fitzsimmons would not say how many people came forward yesterday or how they said they were related to the girl.
The state Department of Human Resources, which oversees the city's social services department, does not keep statistics on the number of abandoned babies that end up in its care. But social service workers said such cases are rare, particularly for a child of this age.
"I only hear of a situation like this about once a year," said Stephen Berry, manager of in-home family services at the Department of Human Resources. "Because we have such little experience with it, I don't think I can draw up a profile of what this parent might have been dealing with."
But based on the child's appearance and where she was discovered, Berry said he thinks someone wanted her to be found.
"It sounds like the child was left in a way that someone hoped the child would be taken care of," he said. "This strikes me as a parent who has panicked for some reason. They may have some mental health issues or trouble dealing with the child. Perhaps they are fearful they might hurt the child."
But considering that the girl is healthy and shows no signs of abuse, social service workers said they aren't certain she was abandoned.
"This child has obviously been cared for," Fitzsimmons said. "Her hair was braided, there was a blanket and a bottle. That means that someone who has cared for this child is missing this child. Where is that someone? Is that someone in trouble? We can speculate, but we don't know."