(HOUSTON) — A Texas man is fighting for custody of the 8-month-old baby he claims is his son after the child’s mother allegedly abandoned him at a fire station earlier this week.
The man said he did not know that the woman, with whom he lives, had abandoned the baby, according to Child Protective Services.
The mother was allegedly dishonest with him about the baby’s whereabouts, authorities say. The names of the man and woman have not been made public.
Firefighters at Houston’s Fire Station 39 had just returned from a call Monday morning when they heard something unusual.
“The firefighters were inside trying to get breakfast. At about 10:05, they heard a baby crying,” Houston Fire Department spokesman Capt. Ruy Lozano told ABC News Thursday.
They went outside and found a baby in a carriage, just inside the open garage door of the station.
“They immediately grabbed the baby and took him inside out of the heat because it’s very hot in Houston right now,” Lozano said.
The baby appeared to be healthy and was “clean, well-fed and well-dressed,” he said.
The firefighters played with the baby boy until they could contact protective services. The baby was then taken to the hospital to be checked out.
“He was released yesterday evening from the hospital and placed in a foster home,” Child Protective Services spokeswoman Estella Olguin told ABC News.
Under Texas’ Safe Haven law, also known as the Baby Moses law, parents who cannot care for their child can leave the infant with an employee at a designated safe place: a fire station, hospital or EMS station.
The baby must be 60 days old or younger and unharmed.
The baby left at Fire Station 39 turns 8 months old Friday, which means protective services had to investigate his case and seek out relatives who might be willing to care for the child.
The woman who left the baby came forward at an emergency hearing Tuesday.
“She didn’t come forward to claim him,” Olguin said. “She really just came forward to say, ‘I am the mother and these are the reasons I surrendered him.'”
A DNA sample was taken and a protective services worker went to the woman’s house.
“She showed us legal documentation — birth certificate, medical records, Social Security — and photographs. And she looks like him,” Olguin said. “[There are] photographs of the baby throughout the few months of his life and we really have no doubt that she is the mother.
“She basically found herself in a position where she can’t take care of him,” Olguin said. “I just can’t go into the details of why.”
The DNA test can take six weeks to be analyzed.
When protective services contacted the baby’s alleged father, he said he was interested in taking custody of the child. Olguin said a DNA sample will have to be taken to establish paternity.
In the meantime, the little boy will remain in foster care.
Fire Capt. Lozano said that while the baby is older than 60 days and the mother did not do a person-to-person surrender, he still applauds her action.
“The lady still showed a lot of courage,” he said. “I don’t know what’s going on in her life. Sometimes they feel so desperate they don’t see any other way out.”
“I’d rather have them taken to a fire station than for me to make those calls where I find a baby in a dumpster or a ditch.”
It’s unclear whether authorities will file charges against the woman.
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