In the middle of a cold Florida night in January, a woman thought she heard cats fighting.
The sounds died down, but about an hour later, she heard the yelling again and woke her husband to help her investigate, Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said in a Jan. 29 news conference.
The couple went outside and followed the sounds, which led them to a wooded area on a hill behind the mobile home park in Mulberry, according to Judd and a Jan. 29 news release from the sheriff’s office.
They discovered a bundled blanket, and after seeing what was inside, they called the sheriff’s office, Judd said.
Inside the blanket was a newborn baby, still attached to the umbilical cord and placenta of her mother, deputies said.
“I’ve named her Angel Grace LNU. She’s as beautiful as an angel, it’s by the Grace of God she is not dead, and LNU is the ‘Last Name Unknown,’” Judd said in the news conference. “She’s a beautiful child.”
Fire rescue medics used the baby’s body temperature to confirm she had been born just an hour earlier, deputies said, and she was in stable condition.
The temperature that night was in the low 50s, according to the sheriff’s office.
“It was by the Grace of God that we found the abandoned baby girl when we did, before exposure to the cold or any animals caused her any harm,” Judd said in the release. “She was left in an extremely vulnerable condition, but she’s a strong little girl, and it looks like she’s doing great.”
In the days and weeks that followed, deputies searched for the baby’s mother using K-9 units and going door-to-door in the nearby community.
Despite their best efforts, her mother wasn’t found.
Now, just over 10 months after the baby was discovered in the cold, she’s getting a second chance at life.
“We have an exciting update to share with you,” the sheriff’s office wrote in a post on X, formally known as Twitter, on Nov. 29. “Fast forward ten months and one day – the baby girl has officially been adopted.”
Her mom and dad, who wished to remain unnamed, shared photos from their daughter’s “Gotcha Day.”
One photo included two of the sheriff’s office’s own.
“The Polk County Sheriff’s Office would like to remind mothers about Florida’s Safe Haven Law, enacted in 2000, which allows for parents to leave their unharmed newborn child (under a week old) at any Safe Haven facility (hospitals or properly staffed EMS/Fire Station) anonymously, and without fear of prosecution,” the sheriff’s office said in January.
Mulberry is about 40 miles east of Tampa.