HOUSTON (KHOU-TV) -- The next court hearing for the 16-year-old Houston girl who left her newborn baby in a dumpster earlier this week is scheduled for March 7, and the potential one-year legal process to determine who gets custody of the infant could end with the girl and her family getting the baby back.
By Texas law the biological family is given at least one year to prove to a Juvenile Court judge that they can provide a safe home for the child now known as Baby Carlos: named after the apartment complex manager who found him in the dumpster on Tuesday.
PHOTOS | Baby found in Houston dumpster
The 16-year-old has told investigators she gave birth in her bathtub, thought the child was dead, and left him the dumpster because she was scared of her family's reaction. But Child Protective Services spokesperson Estelle Olguin says that girl and her family still have rights to the child if they wish to pursue custody.
"She's the biological mother and until rights are terminated (through the judicial process) until then she's got rights to the baby," said Olguin. In the interim, Harris County Juvenile Court Associate Judge Angela Ellis has authorized supervised visits for the mom while the child is in state custody at a foster home.
Teen mom accused of abandoning baby in dumpster says she thought child was dead
Per state law an attorney has been appointed to represent the child. A different attorney has been appointed to represent the rights of the 16-year-old mom. Through numerous legal proceedings, psychological counseling and screenings for the mother, and extended investigations of the teen mom's family life, the courts will decide if the baby goes up for adoption or is returned to the girl and her extended family.
"We're not talking about just placing it with her," said Treece, "we're talking about her aunts, her uncles, you know the grandparents. Other people could be a well structured family for this child."
"This child is lucky it's alive," Treece added. "But it's even luckier now that third parties are going to be looking for what is in the best interest of that child."
Recent similar cases show both possibilities. "Baby Aiden" was an infant found next to an apartment complex dumpster June of last year in southeast Houston. The baby's family came forward, asserted their rights as the biological relatives and were eventually awarded custody of the child.
"Baby Chloe," an infant left in a shopping bag outside a Cypress-area apartment complex last February, was eventually adopted. Caseworkers say her biological family never came forward.