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Safe Haven Baby Thanks Her 'Tummy Mommy' For Her 'Really Good Life'

DENVER (CBS4) - A dozen years ago a young mother gave up her newborn. She handed the baby girl to two firefighters at a Westminster fire station and drove away. That "fire station baby" recently shared her story with CBS4.

Halle Burke talked about her "really good life" with her adoptive parents. She explained her hope of finding her birth mother. And she met the firefighters who took her in.

"I've never forgotten that call," Westminster Fire Department paramedic Duane Linkus said.

It was in the early evening of Feb. 15, 2003. Then-engineer Tom O'Neill answered a knock on the fire station door.

"Out on this side of the door there was just a couple there and they handed me a baby," said O'Neill.

He said he immediately called for paramedic Linkus.

Halle Burke
Halle Burke (credit: CBS)

"I look at the child," Linkus said, "Child looks fine and Tom's giving me the look in his eyes that something's going on. And that's when it hits me, that she's here to drop this baby off."

Under the 2000 Safe Haven law it's legal. A mother in crisis in Colorado can surrender her baby up to 3 days old at a fire station or hospital with no questions asked.

"And then that was it and she left," said Linkus.

"Now I'm here," 12-year-old Halle told CBS4's Kathy Walsh.

westminster safe haven
Halle Burke was reunited with the firefighters who took her in 12 years ago (credit: CBS)

Her mother couldn't handle raising her, but a loving couple immediately embraced her. In 2003 Julie and John Burke were reeling from an adoption overturned when a friend called. John Burke says he was told, "Oh my gosh, there's a baby left at a fire station. Can you guys get that one?"

It turns out they could and did.

"She was so tiny," said Julie Burke." And the biggest thing on her were these big, beautiful, brown eyes."

They named her Halle for a special reason.

"After doing fertility treatments for however long we did them, we were like 'Hallelujuah' now we have a baby," said Julie.

Halle has known her history for years.

"When I hear that story, I always think of hope. I always think that I am going to find my tummy mommy before it's too late," Halle said.

She wants to see if the woman she calls her "tummy mommy" looks like her. She wants to ask her about her life and thank her.

"Because there's a lot of women, people, who are afraid to have babies and when they do they make bad choices about it, but my tummy mommy made a really, really good choice," Halle said.

fire station baby
(credit: CBS)

Over the years the Burke's adopted two more children. And Julie wrote the book "Fire Station Baby" hoping Halle's birth mom will read it and contact Halle.

"I bet she would think 'Wow, that's my daughter,' " said Halle with a laugh.

Recently Halle had her first reunion with the fire crew. She thanked them, gave them copies of the book, and hugged them all.

They were this fire station baby's first friends. They are now family.


Kathy Walsh is CBS4's Weekend Anchor and Health Specialist. She has been with CBS4 for more than 30 years. She is always open to story ideas. Follow Kathy on Twitter @WalshCBS4.

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