News & Politics

Army Sergeant Thinks His Baby Died in Childbirth, Then He Finds Out the Truth

(Image via GoFundMe)

Army Sergeant Steven Garcia believed his baby girl was dead. While he was stationed overseas, Garcia received a call from his sister who told him that his wife Marina had called to say she had given birth to a girl, but that the baby had died in the process. Garcia told News 4 Tucson that he found the news “devastating.” He was “pretty emotional” and “cried quite a bit.” But, unbeknownst to Garcia or his sister, the baby wasn’t actually dead. In fact, the baby was still in utero and wouldn’t be born for weeks. Not only that, the baby wasn’t even Garcia’s.

On February 2, weeks after Sgt. Garcia believed the baby had died, Marina Garcia gave birth to a baby boy —  not a girl as she had previously told Garcia’s sister. Three days later an Arizona Department of Public Safety trooper pulled over a couple in their 40s for speeding. Alex and Leslie Hernandez seemed nervous and finally admitted that the newborn baby boy in their backseat was not theirs. They explained that they and Marina had forged the baby’s birth certificate to name Alex Hernandez as the father instead of Garcia.

When questioned, Marina revealed that Garcia was not the baby’s biological father but refused to say who was. “It’s unknown,” she told News 4 Tucson. Cochise County Attorney Brian McIntyre expressed his relief that Mr. and Mrs. Hernandez were willing to come clean about their relationship to the child. “The only thing on [Marina’s] mind was getting rid of this child,” said McIntyre. She worried that, had Mr. and Mrs. Hernandez not agreed to take the child, finding some “person off the Internet” to take him might have been Marina’s next thought.

McIntyre says that even though Marina didn’t want to keep the baby herself, she had a lot of options for legally finding a good home for her child. He explained to News 4 Tucson that hospital staff will step in if a mother tells them she doesn’t want to keep her baby. Mothers can also drop their infant off at a “safe haven” like a firehouse, or go through the formal process of giving the baby up for adoption. Marina did none of these things, but insists that Garcia “is not gonna get custody of the baby.”

A DNA test confirmed that Garcia is not the father — and he has since filed for divorce from Marina — but the story doesn’t end there. Garcia wants to adopt Marina’s baby boy.

Sgt. Garcia was himself adopted and says that his adopted father “completely changed my life.” He credits his father with helping him become the man he is today and wants the “opportunity to do that for someone else.” He says that adopting Marina’s son “could change the child’s life and give him a better future.” Regardless of the situation between Garcia and his estranged wife, Garcia believes that adopting the baby is “the right thing to do.”

Marina, meanwhile, has pled guilty to attempted fraud, which is a felony. Her sentencing is scheduled for next month. The county attorney and the probation report recommend that Marina receive a prison sentence. Her attorney is contesting this recommendation. Alex and Leslie Hernandez pled guilty to conspiring to commit forgery. Neither had any previous felonies. They each received four years of supervised probation.

The baby is currently in foster care, and Garcia travels to the U.S. to see him whenever he can. In fact, his travel expenses have caused him to go into debt. Garcia’s cousin has started a GoFundMe page to pay for Garcia’s travel and legal expenses. They have currently raised $12,231 of their $20,000 goal. The page is called “Saving Leo.”