An imprisoned Burmese refugee fighting to be reunited with the son she abandoned at birth in Wheaton testified Friday that she intended to go back and get the child after leaving him alone and naked in a neighbor's bush.
Nunu Sung said her plans changed when she returned home to learn worried relatives had reported her missing hours earlier. She said her family didn't know she was pregnant, and she feared the consequences of police finding out.
“She planned to go back and get the boy, but when she got home things changed,” Sung's Chin interpreter told DuPage County Judge Robert Anderson. “She was not able to tell them she had a baby outside.”
Sung, 27, pleaded guilty last year to obstructing justice for lying to police about the child's birth on June 12, 2009. On Friday, she was the first witness called at a trial to determine whether she's a fit mother and, if not, whether it's in her child's best interest to terminate her parental rights.
Sung's attorneys maintain she was traumatized escaping a violent regime in her native Burma, where unwed mothers can be shunned. But the child's court-appointed guardian contends she abused and neglected the boy as soon as he entered the world — and shouldn't be trusted to care for him now.
“I can't think of anything more cruel than what she did to a newborn infant,” said guardian and attorney Kathleen Anderson. “She's not the victim. She's the victimizer.”
Sung gave birth in the early morning hours near a row of garages behind her cousin's studio apartment on the 700 block of Crescent Street. As she viewed photos of the blood-soaked lawn Friday, she buried her hands in her face and wept.
Sung acknowledged the child fell on his head during delivery. She said she then moved him — his umbilical cord still attached — to a “safe place” under a neighbor's bush, where he remained for at least 90 minutes, according to Anderson.
By the time neighbor Joe Logan found the child about 7:40 a.m., the boy was “dirty, naked and sticky,” he said, and whimpering faintly from under a “jungle” of bush and brush along his driveway.
“It wasn't weeping, it wasn't crying. It was just a noise very faint, very low,” Logan testified. “I brushed aside some leaves and looked and immediately saw the baby.”
Logan's wife, Margarita, said she wrapped the baby in a blanket and cleaned a bug out of his mouth. “He was bluish in color,” she testified. “He was cold.”
After giving birth, Sung said she returned to her cousin's apartment, cleaned up and fell asleep on the floor. When police arrived, she initially denied delivering a child and declined medical treatment, Wheaton police Cmdr. James Volpe testified. He said Sung also showed no concern for the baby and did not ask about him.
“She was very quiet, very withdrawn,” Volpe said. “She seemed frightened. She seemed tired.”
Anderson said the boy spent 12 days in a hospital recovering from injuries sustained while being “violently dropped.” She said his heart rate and body temperature also were dangerously low at the scene.
“The child victim … had a body temperature so low it wouldn't register,” Anderson said.
Sung said she fled Burma in 2005 and, after living in Malaysia for about three years, came to the United States as a legal refugee. She said she became pregnant in Texas but the father “distanced” himself from her after learning she was expecting. She then moved in with her cousin and cousin's husband in their one-room apartment in Wheaton.
Sung said she received no prenatal care and never consulted a doctor about the pregnancy.
Attorney Charles Rohde, who represents the foster parents caring for Sung's son, said it was a “miracle” the child was even found.
“The fact that this case, this child even exists is a miracle, miraculous,” he said.
The trial, which could go through mid-January and include nearly 50 witnesses, resumes Tuesday. Sung is slated for parole in January.