The newborn found swaddled in a plastic bag and crying on top of a pile of leaves and twigs in Georgia this month is ready for her "forever home," an official says.
Baby India is in a "wonderful protective home right now," said Tom Rawlings, director of the state Division of Family and Children Services: "She's gaining weight and smiling a lot. She's an easy baby who loves to be held and sung to, and she's overall thriving now."
Baby India's distinctive nickname was bestowed on her by the Ragatz family, who found her on June 6.
They heard cries and believed that a raccoon or baby deer was the source, but their investigation proved otherwise. "It was a poor little baby wrapped up in a plastic bag," Alan Ragatz said.
Her umbilical cord still in place, she was possibly just an hour old when Ragatz and his three daughters discovered her abandoned in a wooded strip of land near Daves Creek Road in Cumming, outside Atlanta.
Protective services are normally bound by confidentiality rules, but Rawlings believes that the popular nickname, shared with the media and fondly taken up by her caretakers, will ultimately protect the child's long-term privacy. "Once a forever home is found for her, she will have the opportunity to grow up under any name given to her by her adoptive parents," he said.
The details of her life may be unique, but abandoned babies are unfortunately not at all unusual, he said: "Too often, babies are abandoned in terrible conditions like this. We've had babies left in bathrooms and other horrible situations.
"This is notable because a miracle has come out of it."
Often, a mother does not feel capable of caring for a child due to economic conditions or other circumstances, he said. Georgia's Safe Haven law offers protection by allowing a woman to anonymously leave her child at a police station, a fire station or a hospital up to 30 days after birth. Similar laws have been enacted in all 50 states, Rawlings noted.
"None of this is necessary. There are good options, wonderful options," he said. Last year in Georgia, 1,200 children were adopted out of foster care, he said. Hundreds of people are waiting to adopt children 5 and younger.
Though Rawlings is a lawyer, his work has taught him that Baby India will probably not retain conscious memories of what occurred. "At this young age, children are very resilient," he said.
Older children are different; he recalled a centenarian who told him the story of her own abandonment and adoption into a loving home. "Even a person born into a situation of tragedy can have a long and fulfilling life, and that's what we hope for this child," he said.
Baby India has captured hearts across the nation because she persevered, Rawlings believes: "She cried out for help. We've had, literally, thousands of people across the country and other parts of North America come forward wanting to adopt Baby India."
He hopes Baby India's story serves to remind people that there are children in need across the country.
What makes a good foster or adoptive parent? Those who doubt themselves need only take heart. "The desire to be a family. That's all you need," Rawlings said.
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