Baby Elsa: Abandoned newborn leaves hospital with foster parents

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Baby Elsa was found at the junction of Greenway and High Street South
By Sanchia Berg
BBC News

A newborn baby found in east London has been discharged from hospital and is in foster care, a court has heard.

Baby Elsa was discovered by a dog walker last Thursday, wrapped in a towel inside a bag in Newham in sub-zero temperatures.

East London Family Court heard Elsa’s parents had not come forward and there was no information about her identity.

Judge Carol Atkinson issued an interim care order for the baby, requested by Newham Borough Council.

Police are still appealing to Elsa’s mother to come forward and urge her to get in touch by phone, or walk into a hospital or police station.

Court documents suggest the baby was very cold when she was found – it was three hours before doctors could record her temperature.

However, she was crying and responsive the whole time and, later that night, staff reported she was feeding well and named her.

The documents show Elsa was born approximately an hour before she was abandoned and still had her umbilical cord.

Doctors believe she was a full-term baby and weighed 6lbs 6oz (2.9kg) when she was found, the documents say.

Elsa is now medically fit and, on Tuesday, was discharged to foster parents who had been visiting her in hospital.

The interim care order will give the local authority parental responsibility for Elsa while further information is gathered about her identity and, in future hearings, the court will decide where her permanent home will be.

Name change request

During the hearing on Thursday, Elsa’s court-appointed guardian asked to change her name.

She said it appeared to be a reference to the baby being found during the very cold spell, as Elsa was the main character in the Frozen series of Disney films.

The guardian’s barrister explained the reasoning behind the request, telling the court her name could have an impact on her when older as it might be seen as “gimmicky”.

However, Judge Carol Atkinson disagreed and said the court needed to consider the position of a child who had lost everything, adding the name they were given when found could be “something they can hang on to”.

Very few babies are recorded as abandoned at birth in England and Wales.

The Office of National Statistics (ONS) published data until 2015, and that showed no babies were registered as abandoned for the previous three years, with just one logged as abandoned in 2011.

There will be a second hearing at East London Family Court in a few weeks’ time.

Family Courts usually hold hearings in private, but the BBC was given permission to report under a transparency order issued by the judge.

This is part of a wider initiative allowing journalists to report family court hearings – which from 29 January will apply to almost half the Family Courts in England and Wales.

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