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Baby abandoned at a Fergus Falls hospital has new home

A family has been found for the newborn boy left anonymously at a Fergus Falls hospital Monday.

The family will care for the baby and likely will be his adoptive parents pending adoption proceedings, said Otter Tail County Social Services Supervisor Brad Vold.

Vold said Wednesday that the county is pursuing termination of parental rights for the child's biological parents before the adoption proceedings begin. He would not identify the prospective adoptive parents or say where they live.

The baby will live with the family throughout the adoption proceedings, which could take a few months, Vold said.

The family was on a list the county keeps of families who are interested in adopting. Families on the list have passed specific requirements for adoption, such as background checks and home studies conducted by social service workers, Vold said.

It's unknown how long the family has been on the adoption waiting list, he said, adding that some people told him they have been waiting to adopt an infant for up to five years.

Fergus Falls police responded to Lake Region Hospital at 6:22 p.m. Monday after hospital staff reported that an unknown woman dropped off the baby, Sgt. Terry Eldien said.

The baby, believed to have been born within a day or so, was left at the hospital under Minnesota's Safe Place for Newborns law.

The law - enacted in 2000 - designates a hospital as a safe haven for mothers who want to give up a baby, born within 72 hours, without fear of prosecution for child abandonment. Eldien said police will not pursue criminal charges in the case.

Vold said his office has fielded scores of calls from people inquiring about the baby since the first news reports. It was the first time the "Safe Place" law has been used in Otter Tail County in recent history.

"Up until 10 a.m. (Wednesday), I was up to 40 voice mails, all interested in adopting," he said. Vold said his office has set up a separate line with a voice mail message stating that no names and information will be taken regarding this case.

The calls came from across Minnesota and from other states, including North Dakota, Wisconsin, Iowa and area codes that Vold did not recognize. He said although a family has been selected for adoption proceedings, there are other children who need homes.

"There are about 600 waiting kids, not necessarily infants, who are available for adoption" in Minnesota, he said. "A number of them have special needs, but they're just as needy as this infant was in terms of needing a family."