Pastor: Abandoned newborn is a 'terrible tragedy'

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - A baby boy found abandoned in Biloxi over the weekend is now in the custody of the state Department of Human Services (DHS). DHS officials said, the baby is doing fine and the next step is to find him a home.

The newborn was found outside a Biloxi church Saturday afternoon. His discovery has sparked an outpouring of love and prayers from parishioners and people throughout the community.

A woman in the neighborhood found the naked baby boy in a wooden box behind Bethel Lutheran Church on Pass Road. Biloxi police said, the child was barely a day old and was probably left outside the church for several hours.

"I thought it was a terrible tragedy that someone would have to abandon their child," said Pastor Marcia Schultz of Bethel Lutheran Church. "There are places to bring your child if you're that desperate. I was glad the child was found, but I was really saddened by the situation."

Pastor Schultz said, the newborn has touched the hearts of many members of the congregation.

"I think we would help with baby supplies, monetarily," said Schultz. "One of our ladies said, 'Well, if they need someone to rock the baby, tell them to call me.' It's just an outpouring of love and concern."

One person even called the church asking how to go about adopting the baby. DHS Regional Director Theresa Kemp said, her office has also been flooded with calls from people who want to give the baby a loving home. Kemp said the agency has a list of resource families that are currently licensed to foster or adopt children.

"We will do what we need to do to get a home for the child. I don't think we'll have a problem if it comes to us needing a family for a child," said Kemp.

Kemp also stressed that according to the state's Safe Haven Law, a church is not a legal place to leave a baby.

"A baby could be left at a medical facility, an emergency room, or an adoption agency. That baby being born 72 hours can be taken," said Kemp.

Pastor Schultz agreed, saying that the baby should be have been left at a safer place. Since the baby boy was abandoned at Bethel Lutheran, the pastor said the newborn is already a part of her church family.

"I feel like there was a reason why they picked this church instead of picking it at random, and so we are very concerned to follow up and know how the baby's doing. I would like to baptize the baby.  We feel a little ownership or responsibility," said Schultz.

"I do hope they find a family," she added. "Our prayers are with the baby and with the momma who's suffered this loss."

Biloxi police are still searching for the baby's parents. If found, the mother and any accomplices could face child abandonment charges.

DHS officials said the last time a newborn was abandoned on the Mississippi coast was in 2003, when a baby boy was left at St. Matthews Church in Gulfport.

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