A baby left near the side of an Oklahoma highway last weekend came with a surprising accessory: more than $5,000 in cash.
Passengers in a church van spotted the baby in the tall grass alongside the road on Saturday. At first, they thought he was a doll. But once they saw him move, they pulled over to investigate. That’s when they found the 4-week-old baby in his car seat, along with the money and his identification documents.
Alexis Harrison pulled over to investigate as well. She told Oklahoma station KWTV that she and her husband were shocked when they realized what was going on. "Obviously our initial reaction was, that's not real. There's no way that's real," Harrison told KWTV. "When we got there, you know I just said ‘please tell me that's not what I think it is.’"
Although the baby was left without food or water, police determined he was unharmed. Harrison told KWTV that he was calm, not crying, and simply looking around. It was in the 90s on Saturday when he was found, and the outcome could have been very different if passersby hadn’t seen him and intervened.
The baby is currently in state custody, and will either be placed with family members or a foster family, police said. The authorities have located his mother, but no charges have been filed.
While the circumstances around the mother’s decision to leave the baby by the side of the road are unknown, it’s clear that she wanted what was best for her baby. The side of the road is never a safe place to leave a child, however, and she’s lucky the baby wasn’t hurt.
All 50 states have safe-haven laws, which allow parents to leave their children in designated places if they’re unable to care for them without fear of legal repercussions. Here in Washington, this law only applies to children 72 hours old or younger. It designates safe haven sites as fire stations (during their hours of operation), hospital emergency departments and federally designated rural health clinics (during their hours of operation).
For children older than 72 hours, parents can place them for adoption or voluntarily relinquish their parental rights. However, these aren’t immediate solutions.
While the law doesn’t provide for safe-haven protections for parents of older infants, it’s always better to err on the side of finding a safe place of caution by leaving a child in a safe place rather than an unsafe site like a roadside.