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Mother tells court she always meant to go back for baby

An Illinois woman is trying to convince a court that her child belongs with her, not a foster family. Before she can regain custody, though, she must complete her prison sentence.

The 26-year-old is scheduled for release in January. This hearing, which should last for a few weeks, will determine if she is legally fit to be a parent. Her son, born in 2009, is currently in foster care.

She took the stand first and explained, through an interpreter, the circumstances that led up to the birth. Originally from Myanmar, she moved first to Malaysia then, in 2007, to the U.S. She settled in the South, in a community of people from her ethnic group. When she became pregnant, the father, also of her ethnic group, refused to help.

Knowing that her community believes being single and pregnant is "very sinful," she told no one. She left her home and moved to Illinois to live with a cousin. She told no one here about her condition, either.

She gave birth to her son outside her apartment building. She put the baby in what she believed to be a safe place -- hidden in some shrubs about 75 yards from the building -- and went back inside. Later that evening, she went for a walk and didn't return.

Her cousin called the police who connected the dots between the young woman and the baby discovered by her neighbors earlier that evening. The baby was in serious condition when he arrived at the hospital. He stayed there for 12 days.

The charge that put her into prison was lying to the police about the birth. But, on the stand, she insisted that she always meant to go back for the baby.

After the woman went to prison, a court-appointed attorney petitioned the court to terminate her parental rights. That same attorney is now arguing that the boy should not be returned to his mother.

Source: Boston Herald, "Illinois woman says she intended to retrieve her newborn after leaving him in bushes," Clifford Ward, Dec. 2, 2011

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