In 2019, a mother of four abandoned her eldest child with Down Syndrome at a hospital in Georgia. However, she eventually got caught by the police and was charged to court. Find out what happened.
On December 4, 2019, surveillance footage reportedly captured a 37-year-old mother of four, Diana Elliot, leaving her 14-year-old son with special needs at Grady Memorial Hospital, Georgia.
In the video, the pair held hands as the mother led her son, who was dressed in warm clothes with a backpack, to the hospital. Next, Elliot abandoned the teenager in the hospital without telling anyone who the child was.
Mom who abandoned special needs son but later got arrested. | Photo: YouTube/11Alive
The mother was eventually tracked down, arrested, and charged with first-degree child cruelty after the child was found "hungry and cold" outside the hospital.
Elliot reportedly explained to the investigators that she abandoned her son at the hospital because she was overwhelmed with caring for him and her other three children.
Luckily, he was found by a nurse at the hospital, who was on break, went outside and noticed the teenager sitting alone. According to the police, the child was non-verbal with a diminished mental capacity and could not identify himself or write.
After he was found, police officials alerted the public. With the help of teachers who recognized the child, Elliot was tracked down to a hotel where she was staying with her other three children and was eventually arrested.
During a chat with 11Alive, the mother insisted that she did not leave her child with the intention of abandoning him forever. Elliot revealed that she left her son at the hospital with a note attached to him that read:
"My name is Sheldon. My mom needs help."
Special needs son playing with his mom. | Photo: YouTube/11Alive
Elliot said she waited in a hotel room with her kids, hoping that she would get a call from someone who wanted to offer help. Sadly, no one called. Instead, she was arrested and charged to court for cruelty to children.
At the time, Georgia already had "safe haven" protection laws that allowed parents to leave newborns at hospitals, police stations, fire stations. However, the infants should be dropped off within 30 days of birth.
Special needs son playing with toys. | Photo: YouTube/11Alive
But for Elliot, her child was not an infant, which was against the law. After her arrest, her four children were placed in the custody of the Georgia Division of Family and Child Services.
The news of the mother and child soon became viral, and the Down Syndrome Association of Atlanta, along with its executive director, Sheryl Arno, began receiving cash donations to help the child.
A user's comment on mom who abandoned her special needs son. | Photo: YouTube/11Alive
With the generous donations, the teenager with special needs received the medical and professional help he needed. Also, in November 2020, Elliot's kids were brought out of foster care and reunited with their father in Ohio, who had won custody.
In addition, the remnants of the donations were used to give the teenager and his siblings a Christmas celebration they had never experienced. Arno said seeing them together was a huge accomplishment.
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