Free-Range Kids

Crying Mom Arrested for Accidentally Leaving Baby in Parking Lot

To err is... a crime necessitating the intervention of child protective services.


Screenshot via ABC News

An 8-week-old baby, calm, fed, and clothed, was found in his carseat on the ground in a parking lot in Katy, Texas. His mom returned to get him somewhere between 45 and 90 minutes later, crying. She said she that her husband, whom she'd handed the baby to, had somehow not put the boy in the car.

The couple has been arrested for child endangerment.

Now look: If it turns out this tiny Texan was deliberately abandoned, which strikes me as the least likely scenario, then go ahead and deal with that through the legal system. But if it was a mistake, please recall that even the Prime Minister of Great Britain forgot his kid in a pub. These things happen. They are unfortunate. They are not crimes. Here's the story, from ABC News:

A couple was arrested on Tuesday after their eight-week-old baby boy was left in his car seat on the ground of a busy parking lot in Katy, Texas…

A man found the infant and handed him over to Dee Griffin-Stevens, a mother of three who said she cared for the baby until authorities arrived, the report said.

That's as it should be—people helping each other out. And when Griffin-Stevens picked up the baby, all was well. The video taken at the scene shows an extreme cute, placid child. This was in the parking lot in front of where the mom works. She'd taken the baby out with her when she left her job for the day.

Frankly, how many intact families with at least one working parent, who have bonded with their child for two months, suddenly up and conspire to leave him to the wolves?

Okay, now how many exhausted new parents make some dumb mistake? I've heard of people who put their baby on top of the car and drive off, too. To err is… you know.

Because of this particular error, the child is now in the hands of child protective services, which is hunting for some other relatives to take care of the boy while his very human parents are taught a lesson that they have already learned: Double check to make sure your kid is where you think he is. When the mom returned to get him—she was crying—she was arrested.

During the couple's first court appearance on Wednesday, a prosecutor said the couple had left the child there by mistake.

So isn't that… that? A mistake, case closed?

A CPS spokeswoman described him as a "happy, healthy, chunky baby who looks as if he has been cared for."

So isn't that that? The child is fine and well cared for?

This "case" deserves our sympathy, not a court date. And the baby should be with his parents, not the state.