Baby dies after being taken away from lesbian couple days before adoption

The 17-year-old birth father is being charged with neglect after the baby died in his custody

Baby dies after being taken away from lesbian couple days before adoption
28 April 2014

A baby has died after being taken away from a lesbian couple that were just days away from finalizing his adoption.

Heidi and Rachel McFarland, from Iowa, took four-month-old boy Gabriel home from the hospital in what they hoped would be the beginning of their happy family.

After the married couple helped cut the umbilical cord, they spent every waking moment with Gabriel until he was returned to his birth parents.

‘It’s like he knew instantly,’ Rachel McFarland said. ‘We were his mommas’.

But just 11 days before they could finalize the adoption, the boy’s 16-year-old birth mother changed her mind about giving up the child.

Last week, the infant’s 17-year-old father Drew James Wheeler-Smith was to care for the child while the birth mother ran an errand.

Less than an hour later, Gabriel’s birth mother returned to find the baby unresponsive in his chair with white foam around his mouth.

Wheeler-Smith was not in the apartment and could not be found.

The following day, as the McFarlands sat watching the news already grieving, they found out Gabriel had died, reported the Des Moines Register.

KCCI asked the couple what were the last words they said to their child as they said so long, Heidi McFarland saying: ‘It was…"I love you."’

Rachel McFarland added: ‘As we kissed him goodbye, I apologized for failing him. I couldn’t fight anymore for him.’

In a statement, the McFarland family said: ‘Heidi and Rachel were the perfect parents and any love, happiness and security that Gabe had in his short life was given by them. They would have treasured him forever.’

Under Iowa law, a birth mother has three months to change her mind about adoption.

Wheeler-Smith could face more charges pending the outcome of the child’s autopsy.

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