No longer abandoned, baby heads to foster care

August 04, 1994|By Howard Libit | Howard Libit,Sun Staff Writer

Baby Jane Doe is only 7 days old, and she already has two new names and a new home.

The baby, who was abandoned on a Southwest Baltimore doorstep just minutes after being born, was renamed Dominique yesterday by workers of the city Department of Social Services after she was released from the hospital and transferred to foster care.

But to some Pigtown residents who found the newborn in a plastic bag at 4:15 a.m. last Thursday, Baby Jane Doe's name is "Lucky Wilhelm."

Dominique "is a beautiful name. I like it too," said Bea Jones, one of the women who found the baby. "But deep in our hearts, she'll always be Lucky Wilhelm to us. She's lucky to be alive, and we found her on Wilhelm Street."

The social services department arranged for the three women who found the baby to see her briefly yesterday afternoon because the University of Maryland Medical Center had not permitted a visit. But only Ms. Jones was able to attend.

With tears in her eyes, Ms. Jones admired Dominique as she slept in the arms of a nurse and lightly touched her tiny left hand -- the same hand that was poking out of the bag last week to alert the women to the source of the early morning crying.

"She's so precious. She's just so precious," Ms. Jones said, stepping away from the baby for a moment as she was overcome with emotion.

Dominique was quickly whisked out of the room to be taken to the Woodlawn couple who will become her foster parents.

The couple, who were not identified by the social services department, have cared for more than 30 children for varying lengths of time during their four years as foster parents. They have two children of their own.

"They are extraordinarily good with children," said Emma Graves, the foster parent supervisor overseeing the case. Ms. Graves said the wife helps to train other foster parents and to maintain a closet of children's clothing at the social services office.

Now that Dominique has left the hospital and has been placed in a temporary home, what happens next is anybody's guess, said Sue Fitzsimmons, spokeswoman for the department.

If the mother is never located -- the most likely scenario, as police report no progress in the investigation -- the baby could be formally adopted in five or six months, Ms. Fitzsimmons said.

If police find the mother, Dominique could be given to her father or to someone in either the mother's or father's family, Ms. Fitzsimmons said. She said it would be "very rare" that a mother who abandons her newborn baby would be able to get it back.

But the mother and father could sign off on an adoption, making the process simpler for the social services department, Ms. Fitzsimmons said.

Ms. Fitzsimmons said she received more than 15 phone calls last week from people who wanted to adopt the baby after seeing media accounts of the abandonment. Others in the department have reported similar numbers of calls, she said.

But the department has already identified many sets of prospective parents and will place the baby with one of them for adoption.

Even if it takes several months for Dominique to find permanent parents, she will always be part of the family of Wilhelm Street residents, according to Ms. Jones.

"We would like to do our best to keep in touch with her," she said. "Maybe we could give her a gift every birthday or the holidays."

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