QUEENS — When a newborn boy was found in the manger of a Richmond Hill church’s Nativity scene last month, New Yorkers felt the urge to help. Many contacted the parish and the city hoping to adopt the baby.
The interest inspired city officials to draw attention to other children who need to be adopted.
Earlier this month, the city's Administration for Children’s Services began the campaign, as first reported by the Wall Street Journal, by tweeting about its adoption program with the hashtag #adoptionjoy.
There are currently 11,000 children in foster care, according to the ACS. About 3,000 need permanent homes.
Last Sunday, the ACS visited the Holy Child Jesus Church at 111-11 86th Ave. where the baby was found, to thank parishioners for taking care of the child and to promote the adoption campaign.
“We are looking into other places we might go to spread the word,” said Chris McKniff, a spokesman for the ACS.
The agency said that the campaign appears to be already working.
“We have seen a 33 percent increase in traffic to our pages on our website about adoption/foster care since campaign began,” McKniff said in an email.
The baby was found with his umbilical cord still attached by a church caretaker Nov. 23.
Father Chrisopher Ryan Heanue, a parochial vicar at the church, said he did not think it was a coincidence. "It's beautiful that ... the church is the home for those in need," he said.
The boy was taken to Jamaica Hospital where he was found to be healthy.
Police were able to locate the baby’s 19-year-old mother several days later. She did not face criminal prosecution because she “followed the spirit of New York’s ‘Safe Haven’ Law which allows a parent to leave a child not older than 30 days with an appropriate person or in a suitable location where the parent promptly notifies an appropriate person of the child’s location,” according to the Queens District Attorney’s office.
McKniff said that, while he is not able to discuss the details regarding the boy's whereabouts, he can say that the baby “is thriving in a foster home.”