Last Tuesday in New York, a church custodian set up the nativity scene inside Holy Child Jesus Church in Queens. He went to lunch and returned to the sounds of a baby crying, only to discover a newborn, with umbilical cord still attached, lying in the manger.
Surveillance footage revealed a young woman entering the church with a baby and leaving without one. And under NY safe haven law, which permits a parent to leave a child in a safe place (such as a hospital or church) with hope of their being taken care of, she will not be charged with child abandonment. And as it turns out, there are parents in the parish who have already asked to adopt the baby.
This story has a few aspects to it. On one level, it is so heartbreakingly sad that a young woman feels desperate, helpless or unsupported enough to give up her child in the first place – a child that she must have bonded with over nine months of pregnancy; and that she laboured through childbirth for. But on another level, how beautiful to leave the baby in the care of the Holy Family – really, is there anywhere safer?
And then there are the parish parents who are keen to adopt – for all we know this is the answer to their unwavering prayers.