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Adrienne Hunt outside her home in Worcester, where she works as a childminder

The morning I opened the front door and found a baby inside a shopping bag I honestly thought I was dreaming. I had heard the doorbell ringing just after 4am but by the time I’d woken up and stepped outside, the street was completely deserted.

Then I looked down and saw what I thought was a tiny doll wrapped up in blankets at my feet. When I lifted the bottom of the bag, it felt warm to the touch and suddenly started moving.

I was in such a daze that I carried the bag into the kitchen and put it on the table, like you might do with groceries. I’m 43 but I’ve had a recurring dream since childhood that one day I would find a baby on my doorstep. For a few moments on that morning in July, earlier this year, it felt as if I was dreaming again. Then I snapped out of it with a start and realised it was happening for real.

I’m a professional childminder in Worcester and quite used to having lots of children in my home but this was something very different. Normally, parents just bring their children to me for the day, collecting them later after work. I was totally gobsmacked that someone was prepared to give up a newborn child and run away into the night.

Before long my husband Jon and one of our daughters, Saoirse, woke up and came to see what all the fuss was about. I thought I should examine the baby immediately to make sure it was OK, while Jon went off to dial 999. He was on the phone for a long time because nobody seemed to know what to do next. I suppose it’s not every day that a person calls to say they’ve found a baby on their doorstep.

The baby was still very pink and curled up but it didn’t cry once. I could see the umbilical cord had been cut very short and it was a boy. All the time I was checking him over, his tiny eyes were looking at me and following my every movement. He was very clean and had obviously been washed and well cared for during the short time he was with his mother.

The police arrived within 15 minutes, then an ambulance car and more paramedics. I didn’t realise that within a few hours the street would be deemed a crime scene, with detectives and media swarming all around the place. The baby was taken by ambulance to Worcestershire Royal Hospital, close to where we live. I had named him Jack but that information didn’t get passed on to the hospital, so staff called him Joseph. The doctors later told me he was just one day old, weighed 5.5lb and was perfectly healthy.

Jon and I were allowed to visit Joseph twice over the next two days and then I found out he had been taken into foster care. I wasn’t to be told with whom or where and social services advised me that it was best if I drew a line under the matter. I understand there are certain protocols that have to be followed for Joseph’s own sake but Saoirse and I were very upset about it. I have four daughters and four granddaughters, so Joseph was the first boy delivered to me. Because of that, he will always stay in my heart.

My main concern now is for the mother. I think she must have known that I was a childminder because why else would my doorstep have been picked? I take it as a great compliment and if she trusted me with her child, I wish she would trust me enough to come and talk to me now.

Although I will never know what happened next, the details of what occurred when he was born in July 2013 are registered with social services. My name will always be on that file. It might be many years before I see Joseph again but I hope that one day he might return to my doorstep as a grown man.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2017. All rights reserved.
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