The Huffington Post reported on Thursday that a mother who had fought for a custody battle for her 2-year-old won and was granted custody. However, days later Stacey Nikkel abandoned her baby. The girl was found alone in a vacant field in a stroller that has been tipped over.
The child was spotted in the field close to the road by passerby Glenna Whitman around 9 a.m. Sunday. Police believe the toddler had been there since 10:30 the night before. The toddler appeared to be physically unharmed. Whitman said that when she saw the stroller in the field, "Something was telling me, 'something's not right."' Whitman returned to the field a short time later with her friend Luanna Arden, and the two discovered the little girl inside the stroller. It was reported that the girl was wearing only a t-shirt, shorts and no shoes. She was very dirty, with tears, snots, and hair covered in fox-tails.
Prior to the incident, Nikkel won a custody battle with a couple who was trying to adopt her daughter. Nikkel had lost custody in 2012, when she was charged with willful cruelty to a child, but the case was ultimately dismissed. The 34-year-old mother from Tehachapi, California was arrested and charged with child endangerment, child abandonment, and being under the influence of a controlled substance. The toddler is now in protective custody.
Child abandonment in fields or woods is not uncommon. Watch the video above about another case where a baby was abandoned in the woods. Child abandonment is the practice of relinquishing interests and claims over one's offspring in an extralegal way with the intent of never again resuming or reasserting them. Causes include many social and cultural factors as well as mental illness, alcoholism and drug addiction. Baby dumping refers to parents, mostly mothers, abandoning or discarding a child younger than 12 months in a public or private place with the intent of disposing them. Since the child was 2 years old, she does not fit into the category of baby dumping. Besides, there was no evident that the mother's intent was to dispose of the child even though she was left in the field overnight.
What is surmised from this case is that officials will probably take a closer look at the mother before releasing the child to her again especially since the child has already been awarded to her twice.