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Abandoned Newborn Baby Meets the Press : Simi Valley: Police gather the media in hopes that a burst of coverage will prompt the mother to come forward.

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SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

A week after he was found wrapped in a blanket outside a Simi Valley school, an abandoned baby boy spent Friday morning facing a phalanx of television cameras, photographers and reporters inside the Simi Valley Police Department.

Police and the county’s Public Social Services Agency convened the media in hopes that a burst of coverage--specifically television footage and newspaper photographs--would prompt the infant’s mother to come forward or attract witnesses who could help investigators find her, said Douglas Miller, deputy director of social services.

Despite canvassing the area near White Oak Elementary School with a composite sketch of the suspected mother, police have been unable to locate the girl, who could be as young as 13. Police came up with the drawing from witnesses who saw a barefoot girl wandering in the area about the time the infant was discovered.

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For fear of discouraging the mother from coming forward, police intentionally downplayed the risk of criminal prosecution.

“We’re not thinking about any charges. We’re thinking about her condition,” Lt. Bob Klamser said. “Our first concern is her medical condition, her physical condition, her emotional condition.”

The infant, named Daniel by a foster mother who took custody of him this week, was discovered by custodian Jerry Halverson at about 6:50 a.m. Jan. 22 outside a classroom at the school.

Halverson said he came around a corner and found the newborn motionless and partially wrapped in a bloody blanket. He called 911 and covered the child in towels. The baby was taken to Simi Valley Hospital and then to Ventura County Medical Center, where he remained until Tuesday.

“I was in kind of a state of shock and numb about the whole situation,” Halverson recalled at the press conference. “I’m just glad the little guy’s OK. He’s eating up all the attention.”

Students and school staff nicknamed the infant “Okey,” after the school’s name and have begun collecting donations for him. White Oak Principal Dan Hill said about $200 has been raised so far from students.

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“I got an envelope from one classroom with $14.52 in it,” Hill said. He added that the donation drive will continue for the next few weeks.

Miller said if the mother is not found, it will take a minimum of six months before the baby could be placed with an adoptive family. If she were to come forward and sign the child over for adoption, placement could occur in about six weeks, he said.

For his part, Daniel remained relatively calm while camera crews jockeyed for position around him and photographers clicked away inches from his face. Klamser said the healthy infant weighed about 5 pounds at birth and has since gained 2 ounces.

Daniel’s foster mother, identified only as Sandy, alternated between gently rocking the baby in her arms, feeding him his bottle and wiping his nose when he sneezed. “He’s extremely good natured,” she said.

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