HARLEM (PIX11) – Another young mother finds herself in handcuffs facing prosecution Monday night instead of under the protections offered by New York State’s Safe Haven law.
Staten Island resident Kenyetta Rowell, 18, is accused of abandoning her four month old son in a Harlem Park Sunday.
The baby boy is safe thanks to the keen eye of a good Samaritan, Michael Allen, who noticed the infant’s stroller in the dark and unattended Sunday night from his apartment window.
It’s a discovery that as Joe and Lisa Zwart will tell you, simply did not have to happen.
They are the picture perfect example of what can take place when a mother gives up her baby in a lawful manner. Nineteen months ago Gabriella was born as a Safe Haven baby.
“There’s so many women out there on both sides. So if it’s kind of like, if we can work together, on both sides, for the woman who can’t — and the woman who can — it would be really great,” said Lisa Zwart.
Joe and Lisa’s adoption was made possible through the work of Nassau County paramedic Tim Jaccard.
“It is very difficult for them to do this. They tend to separate from it. They’re in denial of it the entire time. I’ve had women actually say to me ‘after delivery, that’s not my child,’” said Jaccard.
Back in 1998, he rescued several abandoned babies in a span of just a few months — discoveries that led him to play a pivotal role in the passage of the country’s very first safe haven laws.
“We’ve rescued two thousand eight hundred ninety babies, as of today, actually. We had a safe haven safely, in Chicago. And last week, we had several successful relinquishments too,” said Jaccard.
For Joe and Lisa Zwart the tragic story of a Kenyetta Rowell’s abandoned baby is personal.
Rowell has been charged with reckless endangerment of a child, failure to exercise control of a minor and false report of an incident.