After just about one day of trying to reach her, police have located a Meriden mom who was reported missing on Monday, along with her newborn.
The silver alert was issued for Esperanza Lopez, who was born on July 16. She was last seen with her mother, 23-year-old Ashley Graham on Monday.
Police said they had been contacted by the Department of Children and Families about Esperanza and Graham.
On Monday night, police said they were trying to confirm the safety of Esperanza and were asking Graham to bring the child to a local law enforcement or DCF to evaluate her condition.
"It is based on the collective collaboration between agencies and discerning you know there might be a reason for us to have a concern," Meriden Police Sgt. Christopher Fry said.
On Tuesday evening, police were in contact with Graham. She also turned her baby over to DCF on Tuesday evening.
DCF had gotten a court order to take Esperanza, so Graham headed to her boyfriend’s home in Bristol to turn the baby over, but she wanted Eyewitness News to be there to see that her daughter is in fine condition and to tell her side of the story.
“I just wanted my baby to home safe with me. I didn't want her to go through DCF foster care what my kids are going through right now. I wanted her to be safe and protected and obviously, as you can see, she is not bruised or harmed in any way,” Graham said.
The baby will now be checked out at the hospital and held for 96 hours.
DCF has expressed concern about the welfare of the child because Graham's other four children are currently in foster care.
“They are trying to say my daughter came home with bruises and they took all four of my kids, no court order no nothing,” Graham said. "I love my kids, they are my entire world. I did everything for them."
It is unclear if Graham will face any charges.
While police had been unable to physically locate her earlier on Monday, she was not silent on Facebook in a series of posts.
"I’m the mother of this baby. Me and my beautiful daughter are safe and sound. DCF did this because they are trying to violate my rights as a parent. They are trying to take my poor baby with no case open."
She went on to say "I am a good mother. I have 4 children, now 5. I have been fighting for my children. They took my other 4 children. I have no history of abuse towards my babies. I have no drug abuse history. Nothing.”
For its part, DCF said due to privacy laws they cannot discuss details about the Graham but did release a statement.
“Many checks and balances take place when the Department makes an assessment that a child must be removed due to immediate danger to the child’s safety. The authority to remove a child stems from an independent order from a juvenile court judge. All the parties are represented in court by counsel, and the Attorney General’s Office, which represents the Department in court, will not bring an action unless sufficient evidence exists to warrant the court order. The Department works hard to prevent placing children in foster care, but there are circumstances that require it to protect a child and keep him or her safe," DCF said in a statement on Tuesday.
Anyone with information should call the Meriden Police Department at 203-238-1911.
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