Nine-year-old Elysia Laub thought one of her baby pigs had escaped its pen when she saw a little pink creature in the bushes of her yard on Monday morning.
But when she and her mother looked more closely, the Lowell, Indiana family found a newborn baby girl had been abandoned in their yard, the Daily Mail reports. Authorities said the 9-year-old girl’s discovery and quick response saved the baby’s life.
NBC 5 Chicago reports the Laub family found the baby around 11 a.m. Monday during extremely hot temperatures. Police said the baby suffered a sunburn but appears to be OK otherwise, thanks to Elysia and her family.
Police said the newborn girl’s umbilical cord was still attached, and she was wrapped in a black towel. When the Laubs found her, they said there were maggots crawling all over her.
“I just saw pink legs kicking away,” Elysia told NBC. “I knew it was alive and I knew we had something. I could not second guess myself. I knew we had to get help.”
Elysia’s mother, Heidi, said she instructed her daughter to call 911 while she cared for the baby.
“Then I ran to the baby and scooped it up and I said, ‘Elysia run to the house and call 911 as soon as possible,’” Heidi Laub said. “I got to the house and we put one of our baby blankets around her.”
Laub said the experience was one that she and her daughter will never forget.
Authorities estimated that the baby girl was laying there anywhere from a few hours up to a day. In a statement, Lake County Sheriff John Buncich described Elysia as a “guardian angel” and said she saved the baby’s life.
“She knew right away this was an infant and she ran to the house and summoned her mother, and her mother ran out right away and realized exactly what she had found. And the mother took the infant home until the officers and medics arrived,” Buncich said.
Police said they are still investigating the incident, and they have not found the baby’s mother yet. Buncich said the baby is doing well in the hospital, and will be placed in a foster home. The Lake County Sheriff’s Office is urging anyone with information about the newborn girl or her parents to contact them at 1-800-750-2746.
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All 50 U.S. states work to protect infants from abandonment through save haven laws, which allow mothers in crisis to leave their newborns in a safe environment, such as a hospital or fire station, without questions or repercussions.
However, many people are not aware of these laws. Indiana is working to raise more awareness about its safe haven law and install safe haven baby boxes at various locations across the state. The boxes have padding and climate control, and they alert authorities when a baby has been placed inside. Several European and Asian countries have been using them for years, but Indiana is the first state in the U.S. to initiate the project.
A key leader behind the Indiana effort is Monica Kelsey, whose mother abandoned her at a safe haven when she was a baby. Kelsey is a pro-life speaker and writer who works to raise awareness about infant abandonment, safe haven laws and resources for moms and babies.
Kelsey is one of about 3,000 babies who have been saved from abandonment through safe havens. According to The Safe Haven Alliance, 13 babies in Indiana were abandoned at safe havens since the state law took effect in 2000.