Miami Herald

'Hope' on Father's Day: Baby left at fire station
BY HANNAH SAMPSON AND MANOUCHEKA CELESTE
hsampson@herald.com

She might have been abandoned, but a tiny baby who came to be known as Hope still had eight unofficial dads on Father's Day.

A woman brought the newborn, dressed in a light-colored onesie outfit and little slippers, to a Deerfield Beach fire station and gave her to firefighters Sunday afternoon, mentioning a law that allows mothers to leave a baby up to three days old at a designated safe haven.

The eight men and one woman at the fire station were smitten.

''Beautiful little baby,'' said firefighter-paramedic James Burge. ``Just kind of ironic that it's on Father's Day.''

They took turns holding her. Changed her diaper. Burped her. And decided to call her ``Hope.''

Procedure required them to notify their battalion chief and the Broward Sheriff's Office Child Protective Investigations section.

Nick Silverio, founder of A Safe Haven for Newborns, said a woman who he believes is the mother of the unidentified baby girl called his help line an hour before dropping her off.

''She said she had the baby and didn't want to keep it,'' Silverio said in a phone interview. ``She said she thought it through.''

He said the help line volunteer referred her to the Deerfield Beach Fire Department, the closest location to her.

Father's Day had already been busy at Fire Station 66 in Deerfield Beach.

Wives and children stopped by to celebrate the day with dads who had to work. Some family members had just left the station at 590 S. Powerline Rd. Sunday when there was another knock at the door.

Burge answered, expecting someone else's family. Instead, he saw the woman standing outside holding the baby. She handed the child over.

''No questions asked,'' said Rescue Supervisor Chris Florea.

The woman explained that the baby had been born Thursday or Friday. Firefighters said the baby looked to be in good condition and guessed that she weighed about seven pounds.

''No signs of any neglect at all,'' Burge said.

After about an hour and a half, the girl was taken to Coral Springs Medical Center for a checkup.

''It was sad when we saw her leave,'' said Florea, who has a 6-week-old daughter.

The rescue workers were glad the baby found her way to them.

''We were just happy that the baby was safe,'' Florea said. ``Somebody showed responsibility just to drop the baby off.''

Sunday's incident is what proponents of Florida's Safe Baby Act intended. The law allows mothers to drop off a child three days old or younger at a hospital, fire station or emergency medical service station. Parents will not face prosecution if the babies are not abused.

Silverio said the baby will be available for adoption.

''It worked exactly the way it was supposed to,'' Silverio said.

Said Leslie Mann, a spokeswoman for the Department of Children & Families in Broward: ``This is just a law working at its finest.''