Occupant: Take Good Care Of My Baby

The baby on the doorstep is a staple of old fashioned fiction (and cartoons) to the point of parody. It’s always in a basket and usually with a note - the ultimate ring the bell and run prank.

Now, I know churches and monasteries are classic places to leave your baby from antiquity to the modern Safe Harbor law. But what about the cliched private home? Did that happen, and did the occupants keep the baby like they do in the cartoons?

The pastor of my old church was a doorstep baby. His father was also a pastor and yes, he was adopted by that family.

This just happened to someone a few days ago.

I once ran across a census listing from the 1800s in which a child living with a family was described as “Found in Woods”.

My wife was left on the doorstep of a private home in 1948. It was directly across from the entrance of Los Angeles County General Hospital, so it was assumed that she was born there and then her mother abandoned her after leaving the hospital. The woman who lived there heard the baby crying and found her.

So, yes, it does happen.

So, did the doorstep people commonly keep the baby? “What is it, Ethel?” “Damn it, Frank, it’s another foundling.” “Aw, shit. Throw it on the pile.” Would you call the police? Take it to the nuns? Nowadays I’m sure they’d try to hunt the mother down; would they have done that in the past or just figure it was for the best?

some got kept, much, much easier adopting way back when. ( the clark kent thing) this mostly happened pre 1970s. some got sent to orphanages. there might be a note or 2 in the paper to locate the mother, but not much.

these days the police or cps would be called, and the child goes into the foster system; and a search for the mother by the powers that be.

You have to remember it was a disgrace to have a baby out of wedlock in the old days. Oh sure it happened, but usually the woman got the man to the alter and the couple moved away and backed up the baby’s birthday.

A single woman without a valid explination to why she had no husband was loose. WWII presented a good opportunity for woman as they could simply claim the baby’s father was killed overseas.

Of course when it happens to Betty and Barney or Moe, Curly and Larry the results are predictably more hilarious than in real life

It happened recently around when that woman in Ohio was murdered by her boyfriend. It made the news because the she was pregnant and it was speculated that doorstep baby was hers. It wasn’t. link

A woman with whom I worked is the descendent of a Native American baby found with the body of his dead mother along the Trail of Tears. The family that found him adopted him (informally, I’d guess, this is back in the hills).

Safe Haven locations are the modern substitute for the stranger’s doorstep now.

If I find a baby on my own doorstep, without any clues as to parentage, what are my legal obligations? Do I have any at all?
Need answer fast.

I suppose it would be a crime to just keep it? What would you be charged with?

Um, just take care of her. Um…okay…gotta go…no need to contact the authorities! :eek:

*Gotta run…

Dude, you were supposed to write a note. Don’t you watch TV?

You all may be interested to know that Cecil is looking into this as one of his current column ideas. No idea if or when he may do a column, and not promising anything as I don’t speak for him, just that it’s something he mentioned digging a week or so ago. So keep your eyes on the Straight Dope prize, and it may happen.