It wasn’t long ago that I reported here on a California woman who had just been convicted of attempted murder and been sentenced to five years in prison. She’d given birth at home and tossed the newborn in the dumpster of her apartment. Her husband, who was not the baby’s father, discovered the child and called EMS. The baby’s father didn’t know the woman was pregnant.
This case is strikingly similar (AOL, 10/20/10). In Calgary, a man’s girlfriend told him she didn’t fell well one morning, but he didn’t think there was anything seriously wrong, so he went to work as usual. Once there, he started getting an eerie feeling and returned to their apartment. He got out of his truck and a young woman said “I think I hear a baby in the dumpster.” By that point, the man had no inkling that he had fathered a child.
He leapt into the dumpster and found a baby wrapped in a garbage bag.
“I pulled into my parking spot and hadn’t even got to the back of my truck and a girl said, ‘I think hear a baby in the dumpster.’ So I, you know – no knowledge at this time that this is my kid whatsoever – I went running over,” he said.
“And I jumped in and I removed the stuff and I personally opened the bag. My first sight of my baby was covered in garbage.”
He and a passerby called 911 while another man used his shirt to keep the baby warm. The little boy was in stable condition at the hospital as of the time the article was published.
Not long afterward, the man’s girlfriend appeared at the hospital and it’s been determined that she is the child’s mother. Police are still deciding what she should be charged with pending a psychological evaluation. Charges could range from attempted murder to child endangerment.
Interestingly enough, the police seem to believe that the woman didn’t know she was pregnant until after she gave birth. That leads me to wonder how that’s possible. Although her age is not given in the article, the father is 30, which leads me to guess that she’s an adult. So, absent serious mental incapacity, I can’t figure out how an adult woman in 21st century Canada could possibly go through 9 months of pregnancy and not figure out that she was pregnant.
For that matter, how could the man not know that his girlfriend was pregnant. I could understand his not knowing if the two had split up early in her pregnancy, but these two apparently lived together. I’d guess that he did have some form of knowledge on a subconscious level that, for whatever reason, he failed to address consciously.
But whatever is true of those speculations, it’s unquestionable that, once she gave birth, the mother did know that she had been pregnant and that the thing she was putting in a garbage bag and tossing in the dumpster was a living human being. Given that, her actions look criminal, again absent a showing of serious mental incapacity.
We should be clear; whatever she understood prior to giving birth should make no difference in the legal response to her behavior afterward.
Still, this father now has a son, much to his surprise.
“And from that point on my world has been going 10,000 places,” he said.
I know that’s true. It’s a strange way for a child to begin its life; it’s a strange way for a man to learn he’s a dad – his baby “covered in garbage.” It’s a shocking image and one courts adjudicating things like the mother’s level of criminal responsibility and appropriate custody may want to remember.
Thanks to Atilla for the heads-up.