Reported by: Elliott Jones, Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers
ST. LUCIE COUNTY — A four-day-old healthy infant identified only as Lisa was left at a county fire station on Midway Road about 8 p.m. Tuesday and could end up being offered for adoption, according to state officials and the St. Lucie County Fire District.
Fire stations are considered safe zones, where people may leave infants, seven days old or younger, without any questions being asked. The newborn child was transferred to Lawnwood Regional Medical Center & Heart Institute for an examination. Then the hospital can turn the child over to a licensed child placement agency, said a spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Children and Families.
“She was quiet and kept her eyes closed most of the time,” said firefighter-paramedic Ryan Sapp, who received the child from a man who knocked at the fire station door.
The man said he wasn’t the father and he was there because the mother wasn’t able to take care of the infant. “We aren’t allowed to poke or pry,” Sapp said.
“He treated her gingerly. He looked like he was genuinely concerned” before turning and walking away, said Sapp.
Under state law, it is presumed that parents who leave an infant at a fire station or hospital emergency room are relinquishing their rights to the child. Unless there are signs of child abuse, the parents have the right to remain anonymous and may not be followed.
Fire officials said the baby was healthy and didn’t show any signs of mistreatment. “She never cried,” Sapp said.
The baby girl is the second infant to be left with St. Lucie County fire officials since 2011. On April 21, 2011, a newborn girl was brought to the fire district’s administrative offices.