Friday, Dec. 03, 2010Abandoned Horry County baby held in memory
Ceremony reminds of case, safe haven
By Janelle Frost
CONWAY -- Local authorities and community leaders say if the person who left the body of an infant in a ditch two years ago this week had known of or followed Daniel's Law, the baby could have survived.
"I see it being a good option for people who don't want a child or for whatever reason can't keep a child," said Horry County Coroner Robert Edge, who helped organize a remembrance Thursday for the child known as Baby Boy Horry. "If this baby was left under Daniel's Law, he would have been enjoying Christmas this year."
The state law, also known as the Safe Haven for Abandoned Infants Act, allows parents to leave unharmed newborns at approved "safe havens" without legal repercussions.
In South Carolina, three Daniel's Law babies were given up in 2009, up from two in 2008 and down from four in 2007, according to state Department of Social Services officials. None of those babies was in Horry or Georgetown counties.
The infant was found dead in a Bath and Body Works bag in a ditch on Meadowbrook Drive off of S.C. 544 on Dec. 4, 2008.
Edge has said the infant "was a very viable child, which means if it had the proper care, it would have lived."
Several people from area communities gathered Thursday for the memorial service at Hillcrest Cemetery in Conway. They joined the Rev. Wayne Brown, who officiated the service, in prayers and songs, including "Silent Night," "Jesus Loves Me" and "Away in a Manger."
Brown talked about why the boy's mother would do that when there are places like a rescue squad or hospital where an infant can be safely left.
"Maybe she was fearful ... a student who was afraid," Brown said. "I don't know what could have been going through her mind, except maybe she didn't know about the law or wasn't educated about agencies and churches here to help. It is our privilege as well as our responsibility to help people when we can. We should be able to lean on each other so that other incidents like this don't happen because there are people that will take a child into a loving home.
"Our prayer is that anyone that knows of this tragedy will come forth."
The publicity this week about Baby Boy Horry has prompted a tip that authorities are following up, said Horry County police Lt. Jamie DeBari, who attended Thursday's memorial service.
"It's important to continue a memorial so we don't forget and to bring closure to the case and for the child," said DeBari, who would not disclose Thursday any details about the tip. "You've always got to have hope you're going to close the case, especially these kind of cases."
Authorities hope the service will spur someone who knows what happened to come forward, while pointing out that such laws as Daniel's Law would help prevent this kind of case.
If Daniel's Law had been followed, said Horry County police Sgt. Robert Kegler, "we wouldn't be having a memorial service. ... It absolutely would have helped."
Adam Pertman, executive director of the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, said Wednesday that research has shown that women who abandon their children in unsafe places are not in a state of mind to comprehend that there are other options, such as those provided by safe haven laws.
A report by the adoption institute, headquartered in New York, questions the effectiveness and consequences of safe haven laws.
The report shows "safe haven laws not only do not solve the problem of unsafe infant abandonment, but actually may encourage women to conceal pregnancies and then abandon infants who otherwise would have been placed for adoption through established legal procedures or been raised by relatives," according to a 2003 news release.
"There are still women so distraught that they put their kids in unsafe places," Pertman said. "They need to be educated about conception, medical care and open adoptions."
That's why Myrtle Beach resident Pam Carr keeps the line of communication open with her 15-year-old daughter Abbie Carr.
The two attended Thursday's memorial service.
"That baby could have been a wonderful gift to someone," said Pam Carr, who started a memorial on Meadowbrook Drive where Baby Boy Horry was found. "Someone wanted to forget that baby. We're not going to forget that baby for that reason. I'm not going to let that happen. It's the community's baby."