When a man’s newborn daughter was discovered in a dumpster and left to die, he had no idea his girlfriend was even pregnant. After fighting for his parental rights, he’s been reunited with the baby girl.
Carlos Jimenes Martins was just as confused as his neighbors when his girlfriend, Rafaelle Sousa, was determined to be the mother of an infant found in a dumpster at their apartment complex, west of Boca Raton, Florida. No one, not even Martins, knew Sousa was pregnant — not until the baby was discovered alive in a dumpster after she was placed in a trash bag with another bag around her neck and head.
The baby, whom detectives described as “cute as a button,” was found after her weak cries were heard coming from a gated-off trash area for “resident use only” in the parking lot at the Alister Boca Raton Apartments. The sound drew the attention of two maintenance workers who initially thought the noise was a kitten crying. When they realized how wrong they were, they quickly called 911.
“There’s a baby in the garbage,” the man told the 911 dispatcher. “She’s still alive,” he added. “I’m shaking,” he said after finding the little girl who weighed just 6 pounds, 8 ounces and still had her umbilical cord attached. Paramedics quickly arrived and loaded the infant into an ambulance as authorities began looking for the child’s mother.
The commotion drew many residents outside, and none could understand why anyone would leave an infant to die. “If you would have knocked on my door, I would have taken the baby,” said Shella Dominique, a nurse who had just gotten home from work when the distressing discovery was made. There was another person who would have willingly taken the baby too — the child’s father, who didn’t even know his girlfriend was expecting.
Thanks to a receipt found in the trash bag among the garbage with the baby, Rafaelle Sousa was ultimately identified as the newborn’s mother. Sousa was arrested, accused of giving birth at home then allegedly placing her infant daughter in a trash bag, along with coffee grounds and other garbage, and leaving her in the dumpster. Sousa eventually admitted to delivery the baby, claiming she thought she was stillborn.
According to authorities, Rafaella Sousa said she went back twice to check if the infant was dead. She was charged with attempted felony murder but pleaded not guilty. All of this shocked Carlos Jimenes Martins, Sousa’s boyfriend, who said he never even knew his 35-year-old, long-term girlfriend was pregnant. He told investigators he was horrified that she had thrown their baby away, but the bad news kept getting worse for the dad.
Martins and Sousa already had a 3-year-old son together, and the boy was taken from the home after his sister was found. Martins’ son was later returned to his father’s care, but getting back his daughter, who had been turned over to the care of the Florida Department of Children and Families, wouldn’t be so easy. Luckily, he “was willing to do anything to get his daughter back,” Palm Beach Post reported.
It would take Martins nearly two months to get custody of his daughter, during which time he had to prove he was, in fact, her father. When the DNA results were finally in, Martins couldn’t have been happier to hear, “You are the father.” With his paternity confirmed, he was able to officially take custody of his 9-week-old daughter while Sousa remained in jail. As he was reunited with his little girl, he couldn’t stop smiling. “God makes us strong, and we’re very happy,” he told WPBF.
“I’m going to name her Sara,” declared the proud father, thrilled to be together with both of his children, according to Inside Edition. “I have to thank God, my community, and everybody who has supported and prayed for me and my family,” said Martins, who traveled to a parking lot in Wellington to pick up his daughter on a Wednesday afternoon that he will never forget.
“How can a mother do this?” Sousa allegedly told a neighbor as authorities searched the apartment complex where she lived, near where the baby was found before she was determined to be the newborn’s mother. That’s a good question, considering Florida’s Safe Haven Law allows parents to relinquish unharmed newborns, no older than a week, at a fire station or hospital emergency room without fear of prosecution or child abandonment.
“She’s alive, which is great,” Nick Silverio, founder of A Safe Haven for Newborns, said, lamenting on the baby’s abandonment. “We just want to make sure everybody knows this doesn’t ever, ever have to happen.” Indeed, Baby Sara’s story proves a child is never unwanted, regardless of how his or her mother may feel about the pregnancy.
Even when a mother doesn’t want the child she’s been blessed with, there are plenty of people who would eagerly step up. In this case, that included a neighbor who was a nurse as well as the child’s father. Although the story has a happy ending, the rough start was completely unnecessary. A baby is never trash. They are always a treasure, and if you don’t want them, there is someone who does.