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July 15, 2008 permalink

The baby girl abandoned in a Toronto parking garage in January has now been legally separated from her parents and is available for adoption.



Girl abandoned in a Toronto stairwell now a Crown ward up for adoption

July 14, 2008

TORONTO — An Ontario court cleared the way Monday for the adoption of a baby girl whose plight captured the imagination of Canadians six months ago when she was found abandoned in the dead of winter in a freezing parkade stairwell in Toronto's east end.

Angelica-Leslie - so named by aid workers for her cherubic face and the name of the street where she was discovered - should be in the state's legal care, with no contact from her biological parents, who are facing criminal charges, an Ontario family court judge decided.

The ruling is the first step towards the formal adoption of the child, said Corrie Tuyl of the Children's Aid Society of Toronto.

"This allows us to proceed with planning for her placement in a permanent, loving family," Tuyl said.

Members of the girl's extended biological family were contacted by aid workers in advance of Monday's hearing, but the court heard no option other than making the girl a Crown ward, Tuyl said.

"I think the facts speak for themselves in that there was no alternative plan presented in court today for the baby's care."

Angelica-Leslie's parents continue to deny she is their daughter, despite DNA evidence to the contrary.

Neither were present at Monday's hearing.

Her discovery prompted a swell of public support, including trust fund donations, homemade knit blankets and an avalanche of adoption offers. The agency says some 149 families have offered to adopt the child.

Family lawyer Elizabeth Dyke said she wasn't surprised at the number of people who are looking to adopt the little girl.

"Quite frankly, little babies are in high demand everywhere. There's lots of kids out there if you want to adopt a child, but there's few babies," Dyke said.

"Those poor little kids come with some baggage. This little girl doesn't have any."

Last year in Ontario, some 1,400 families were pre-approved for adoption. Of the 2,500 children available, 800 found new homes, said Virginia Rowden of the Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies.

She said cases like Angelica-Leslie's raise the profile of adoption and the need to find homes for children of all ages.

"Where people are most likely to be interested at first glance at babies, there are all kinds of other kids in our society who need permanent homes," said Rowden.

It was -14 C on the January day Angelica-Leslie was found abandoned in a frigid parking-lot stairwell, touching off a massive police search for her parents.

Investigators focused their efforts on a green car that was captured on surveillance video pulling up to the doorway, then driving off after one of the occupants dropped something off inside the stairwell.

Police arrested a 30-year-old couple in Kitchener, Ont., in May and charged them with abandoning a child, failing to provide the necessaries of life, assault causing bodily harm and criminal negligence causing bodily harm.

Last month, additional charges were laid against the pair, who cannot be identified under the terms of a court-ordered publication ban.

No decision has been made on whether or not Angelica-Leslie will be placed under the same roof as her three older siblings, who are in foster care in Kitchener-Waterloo, she added.

"The Children's Aid Society knows the importance of sibling relationships and always works very hard to preserve sibling relationships whatever the situation," Tuyl said.

She said the final decision will be influenced by several factors, including the unique individual needs of the children, any trauma they may have suffered and the length of time the children have lived together.

The family currently taking care of Angelica-Leslie will not be her permanent foster family, Tuyl said.

Children's Aid is required to have a formal plan for any child within a year of initial contact. In the case of Angelica-Leslie, six months have already passed, Tuyl added.

Source: The Canadian Press, hosted by Google