Terrified Teen Walks into Hospital with Baby in a Shoebox and Hands It to a Medical Staff

Ayesha Muhammad
Jan 23, 2022
03:40 P.M.
Share this pen

One chilly April day in 2004, a teen walked into a hospital holding a shoebox with a tiny infant wrapped in a dishtowel. The baby, born prematurely, was admitted to the NICU. But the next day, another teen came to visit the baby.


We all go through days that drain us physically and emotionally. However, having someone to rely on in hard times can help uplift our low spirits. Fortunately, two teenagers got lucky when they found their support system in a hospital nurse. 

Neonatal nurse Jeannie Joseph was on her usual shift at SwedishAmerican hospital in Rockford, Illinois, when something startled her. 

Little baby Allen placed in a shoebox | Photo:



She saw a teen boy holding a box and walking toward the special care nursery. It turned out the shoebox contained a three-pound infant wearing a doll's onesie and swaddled in a dishtowel.

The infant was born six weeks prematurely and lacked the warmth and nutrients necessary to survive. Joseph and the medical staff treated him for hypothermia, dehydration, and an infection from the household scissors used to cut his umbilical cord. 

When the baby boy stabilized the next day, he had another visitor. Joseph saw a teen girl outside the nursery who wished to see the baby she planned to relinquish under the state's "Safe Haven" law, enacted in 2001 to protect babies later put up for adoption.


Cherish Coates with her son, Allen. | Photo: Doctors


Joseph comforted the scared teen girl and assured her she'd take care of the baby. She led the teen mom to the baby in his incubator and reminded her that she had done everything to save the infant's life. 


After 12 years with no contact, Coates found Joseph on Facebook in 2016, and the two conversed through messages.

The then-15-year-old mom, Cherish Coates, looked at Joseph and felt an instant connection. This connection made Coates return to the nursery daily to check on her son and drop off breast milk. 

Jeannie Joseph caresses Allen's cheek. | Photo: Doctors



Joseph supported Coates when she decided to put the baby up for adoption. The scared teen mom confided in Joseph and relayed her story. She explained that her family didn't know about her pregnancy, and she gave birth to her son in her bedroom.

Coates had met a boy at 13, two years older than her. The two had entered into a relationship and were practically inseparable. Then, one day, she suspected she might be pregnant and hid the details from her family, afraid of their reaction.

On April 24, 2004, Coates felt stomach cramps and shut herself in her room. It was then that her son, Allen, was born. She cut his umbilical cord with her grandfather's scissors. With her boyfriend's help, she put the tiny baby in an old boot box.


Cherish Coates and Jeannie Joseph share a hug. | Photo: Doctors


The terrified teen parents decided to leave the baby at a hospital, where staff could tend to him, under the state's "Safe Haven" law, which allowed parents to leave a newborn at a hospital, fire station, or police station without fear of criminal or civil liability.


Coates also placed a handwritten note inside the box that said, "We love you, we are just not able to raise you. We want his name to be Allen Corey, and we will hope to be able to see you again. God will be watching over you (sic)."

Allen's dad used a ladder to climb from Coates's window and delivered the "shoebox baby" to the SwedishAmerican hospital. Nurse Joseph took care of little Allen and comforted his parents, who dropped by to see him every day.

Allen, Jeannie Joseph, and Cherish Coates. | Photo: Doctors



Joseph's understanding and support made Allen's parents change their minds. Coates fell in love with Allen and mustered up the courage to tell her family about her unexpected pregnancy and the desire to keep her son. 

Joseph even encouraged Coates to complete school and pursue her dreams. The young mom recalled how Joseph "was not judgmental at all, just very nurturing and motherly." Coates finished high school and became a certified nursing assistant.

Meanwhile, Allen thrived at school and loved playing soccer, running cross country, indulging in video games, and watching football. After 12 years with no contact, Coates found Joseph on Facebook in 2016, and the two conversed through messages.



Joseph was thrilled to learn that Coates had become a nurse and entered law school to become a mental health attorney. She was elated to hear that Allen was not so little anymore, stood at five-foot-three, and was thriving at school. 

In November 2017, Allen and Coates appeared on the nationally syndicated daytime talk show, "The Doctors," after their story went viral. Interestingly, the show's host had another special guest, none other than Nurse Joseph. 

Although Coates, Allen, and Joseph had been in touch through Facebook, it was the first time they were together in the same room since they forged a unique connection in April 2004. 



The moment Joseph saw Allen, she couldn't control her emotions. He was no more the tiny infant in a shoebox she had helped several years ago. Coates thanked Joseph for impacting her life and being her inspiration. The Rockford nurse expressed:

"It was amazing. I looked into his face, and he had the same face as his mom."

If this beautiful story warmed your heart, you might like this one where nurses from a hospital in Illinois went out of their way to help a man in 2019 who invited trouble upon himself while driving his daughter to the hospital. Read the complete story here. 


The information in this article is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. All content, including text, and images contained on, or available through is for general information purposes only. does not take responsibility for any action taken as a result of reading this article. Before undertaking any course of treatment please consult with your healthcare provider.