Finder of abandoned baby admits she is the mother She worried child would pose burden

August 20, 1992|By Michael James and David Michael Ettlin | Michael James and David Michael Ettlin,Staff Writers

An 18-year-old woman who created an emotional stir by claiming she found a newborn baby girl abandoned on a Dundalk basketball court has confessed that she is actually the infant's mother, Baltimore County police said yesterday.

The woman, whose identity was not released, told investigators she "made up the story because she feared the child would create a financial burden" on her family, said Sgt. Stephen R. Doarnberger, a police spokesman.

Police said the young mother has a 20-month-old daughter and lives with her parents -- who were unaware of the pregnancy or the home birth of the infant girl about 4:30 p.m. Monday.

The infant was no more than 2 hours old when the mother -- bringing along her older daughter -- drove a car to the nearby home of Sherrie and James Hollenbeck on Wise Avenue and claimed to have found the newborn abandoned in the rain on a basketball court, Mrs. Hollenbeck said.

"The other kid was standing by her on the sidewalk," said Mrs. Hollenbeck, recalling the young woman as "skinny," and wearing a baggy brown shirt, baggy black sweat pants and a baseball jacket.

Mrs. Hollenbeck, 34, who has three children of her own, is among several people to have made offers to adopt the infant. "I would like to see the baby go into a home where it's going to be loved," she said.

In an hourlong police interview yesterday, the young mother and her parents said they would like to retain custody of the infant.

The woman admitted to police that she put the baby in the knapsack, went to the Hollenbecks' home and asked the couple to call police, Sergeant Doarnberger said.

Although the mother has not been charged with any crime, police said the custody issue will be decided by county Department of Social Services officials. The child, who police said appears to be healthy, remained in stable condition yesterday at Francis Scott Key Medical Center.

No criminal charges have been brought because there is no indication the child was ever really abandoned or left unattended, police said. But the mother might be charged later with making a false report to the police, authorities said.

The mother told police at 6:30 p.m. Monday that she was out walking her dog near her Wise Avenue home when she found the child bundled in a knapsack on the outdoor basketball court of Patapsco High School. It was raining heavily and the umbilical cord was still attached.

Police were tipped off Tuesday that the woman who reported finding the baby might be the mother.

The news of the supposed abandonment prompted more than a dozen offers to adopt the child.

The mother and her family could not be reached last night.

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