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Published Friday July 3rd, 2009 at 10:43pm

Original Article by Mai Martinez


Lilli was legally surrendered under Illinois' Safe Haven Act. Her adoptive parents are grateful to the birth mother.
Chicago, IL -- This beautiful baby girl is one of the more than 50 babies who have been saved under Illinois' "safe haven" law.

Her parents talked to CBS 2's Mai Martinez about their baby's birth mother.

They have no idea who that woman is, but she made a choice that changed their lives forever. They're hoping others will follow her lead.

Carrie and Rich can't imagine what their lives would be like without their precious 1-year-old daughter, Lilli.

They say she's a true gift from a woman they didn't even know.

"(We) got a call telling us about Lilli and that she had been brought to the hospital through the fire station via the Safe Haven Act," Carrie said.

Since Lilli's birth mother legally surrendered her -- no questions asked, under Illinois' "safe haven" law -- the newborn was cleared for adoption and placed with Carrie and Rich, who had been trying to adopt a second child for about a year and a half.

The couple says they're forever indebted to Lilli's birth mother.

"Lilli is just an angel for us, has completed our family, and we can't thank her enough for making the right choice, and that's what she did, she made the right choice," Rich said.

Now Rich and Carrie are hoping other birth mothers in the same situation as Lilli's will be inspired by her story and theirs to do the right thing for their newborns.

"There's a lot of people looking to adopt babies, and this is living proof of what we can have here -- happy baby and everyone's doing the right thing," Rich said. "It's the birth mother doing her part. It's us taking over and doing our part."

"We waited a long time to have our family, and we really feel like it's complete," Carrie said. "We'd still be searching probably."

Since the Illinois Safe Haven Act passed in 2001, 52 infants have been legally surrendered and placed with adoptive families. Still, another 55 were illegally abandoned, and of those, 27 did not survive. The Save Abandoned Baby Foundation hopes sharing success stories like Lilli's will show birth mothers what a difference the right choice can make.