Jenifer and her fiancé Jayden Lavender, 14, left the Sydney hospital with three-day-old baby Aria at 12.30am on Thursday, prompting local police to issue an urgent appeal for their return and sparking a 16-hour search.
The teens were found safe and well after spending a night camping with their daughter, but they have not seen the baby since.
The family claims mum Jenifer Morrison, aged just 15, hasn’t been allowed to express B.reast milk so that hospital staff can feed her baby. Speaking to 7News outside the Lavender family home, they explained why they ran away with their baby.
Dad Jayden said:
“All we wanted to do was spend Easter with her. We’re a Christian family, that’s the one thing I love. We go to church and everything.
Fighting back tears, teen mum Jenifer said:
“I would be a good mother for her, I just want her home and safe.
“I don’t know what I’ve done wrong and me and Jayden would be awesome for her.”
When a reporter asked if she’s not going to give up on her baby, the young mum replied:
“No. She’s gonna be there for me and I’ll be there for her. And I’m gonna fight for her.”
“I’ve never felt this pain in my body ever. Now she’s my pride and joy, like as soon as I saw her I was like, she looks exactly how I did when I was a baby.”
As they returned home without baby Aria, reporters questioned Jayden’s mother, Tracy Lavender, about the incident, saying it “must be heartbreaking for them.”
“Yeah it is,” she replied before saying: “I knew that my son would look after his baby and his girlfriend.
“They shouldn’t be having the baby taken off them. They’re good parents.”
Police told 7News the couple hadn’t broken the law but “knew what they were doing was wrong” – they were scared their baby would be taken and felt they had to hide.