Testifying at an emergency custody hearing Wednesday at the Harris County Juvenile Justice Center, a Child Protective Services case worker said that the 16-year-old mother of "Baby Carlos," named after the maintenance man who discovered him, gave birth in a bathtub and thought the baby was dead. The case worker says the teen cut the umbilical cord herself, stuffed the baby in a trash bag, and put it in a dumpster at The Reserve at Windmill Lakes apartment complex in southeast Houston on Tuesday. "Can you only imagine what that young girl was going through to think that was okay," said Atasha Kelley-Harris with Depelchin Children's Center.
Kelley-Harris has worked with many young mothers through the years who want to give their babies up for adoption, and wishes this new mother knew she had options. "There's embarrassment, there's the fear, just not knowing at all what to do, what options, being able to care for a child… they're children themselves," said Kelley-Harris.
The judge granted temporary custody of "Baby Carlos" to CPS. He will be placed in foster care after being released from the hospital where he was listed in "good" condition Wednesday night.
The CPS case worker also testified that the teen, who the judge ruled can have supervised visitation with the baby, didn't know she was pregnant. That may sound bizarre to some but Kelley-Harris has heard it before. "Even if the baby was not breathing or crying, it is still a human life and the idea of discarding, getting rid of it is unacceptable," she said.
The teen mother, the CPS case worker testified, hasn't seen who she believes is the 22-year-old father in 6 months. It's not clear if he knows what has happened. It's also not clear what criminal charges the mother might face. "The probable charge for that type of offense is endangering a child which is a state jail felon. Since the mother is juvenile, she would most likely get probation," said Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson.
The baby and the mother were in local hospitals Wednesday night. The next hearing is March 7th when any family members of the baby can come forward if they want custody.
If you or someone you know is struggling with an unwanted pregnancy, Depelchin Children's Center has a 24-hour "maternity hotline." The number is 713-582-7129.