Abandoned Orlando newborn brings attention to Safe Haven Law

Officials are hoping to inform the public about how to legally surrender an unwanted newborn after a baby was found in a shoebox outside of an Orlando apartment complex last weekend.

The Safe Haven Law allows women to legally surrender their newborns to a staff member at a fire station or hospital. Officials say there’s no judgment, no questions asked, and no criminal repercussions.

“It is better to give the baby to someone who can take care of this child and ensure this child is going to be well and in good hands, rather than just abandoning it,” said Deputy Christian Marrero, of the Orange County Sheriff’s Office.

Over the weekend, the Orange County Sheriff’s Office says a newborn was left on a doorstep at a Pine Hills apartment complex.

A neighbor says she found the child in a shoebox.

RELATED: Deputies continue search for mother of newborn abandoned at Orlando apartment complex

“As soon as I opened my door, I saw a baby. I saw him. I saw his little foot was sticking out of the box,” said Sarah Nazario, who found the baby.

Officials are encouraging people to learn about the Safe Haven Law, which is the legal way to surrender a newborn.

Melissa Babanats adopted both of her children, Isabella and Kevin.  Isabella’s birth mother legally surrendered her as a newborn at the hospital with Safe Haven. She hopes women know that there are people like her willing to care for their child if they're unable.

“My daughter is wonderful and I couldn’t imagine my life without her. And, I plead for someone who’s in that situation to know there is somewhere they can go,” Babanats said.

Since the law went into effect nearly 20 years ago, 316 newborns have been surrendered under the Safe Haven Law.