Last week, a young woman walked into the Holy Child Jesus church in Queens and left her newborn baby in the church’s indoor nativity scene around 1 p.m.
“The baby was found in creche, a sort of manger scene where we would put the baby Jesus during Christmas time,” Father Christopher Heanue said. “The church is considered a safe haven for drop offs…The baby was brand new. He still had the umbilical cord attached. It’s a beautiful baby boy.”
The five-pound, six-ounce child was wrapped in swaddling clothes, and the incident made headlines around the world. Police declined to press charges against the mother, who was picked up on church surveillance footage. Church members also recognized the young mother when she returned the following day to make sure her son was safe.
Now, the 18-year-old “manger mom” has told her story in her own words to the New York Post. The story, which was translated from Spanish to English, describes the teen mom delivering the babe completely alone.
I pushed for 15 minutes until the baby finally came out. It was a boy, but he didn’t let out a cry until later, so I really had no idea whether he was OK. I was too scared to cut the umbilical cord, so I left it on.
I picked him up and carried him out the door with the cord still dangling. I didn’t have any baby clothes for him, but I needed to take him someplace safe.
I’m very religious, and I thought about the Holy Child Jesus Church. I’ve been there before, and the people there are good. I knew if I left him in God’s hands, he would be OK.
The 18-year-old immigrant from Mexico also said she wants to be a mother someday, but that she can’t raise a child right now. New parents are advised to purchase newborns a minimum of seven onesies, two caps, five socks, and four sleepers, and for the winter months, a heavy coat, two shoes, three more socks, two sweaters, and four pants, to say nothing of the added costs of diapers, food, and other essentials.
After giving birth, alone, the young woman wandered into a store to buy the only thing she could afford, a towel to wrap the baby in. Although the manger mom received widespread condemnation for abandoning her baby, church members praised her for bringing the newborn somewhere safe.
All 50 U.S. states now have safe haven laws, which allow mothers to drop off newborns at fire stations, police departments, hospitals, and other safe surrender sites without fear of prosecution. The laws were designed to discourage infanticide.
“I feel so sad that the child’s mother felt she had to abandon him, but it’s a blessing that she brought him here,” said Karina Lara, a member of the Holy Child Jesus church. “This is a beautiful church with beautiful people and his life will be blessed from this point on.”