Sep 082013

Which is worse for a child — to be abandoned since birth or to be abandoned at an age when he’s already aware of it?

At five o’clock in the morning last Thursday, Maryann went about her usual order of the day  prepare for their carinderia  when she noticed an infant at the display shelf. It was a baby boy. And with the little baby was a plastic bag with extra clothes, a diaper and a feeding bottle with milk. Whatever the mother’s reason was for abandoning her child, she made sure that the baby boy would be fed. “Maybe the mother left the baby with us because she saw that we had a business and could take care of the child,” said Maryann. The last time I saw an abandoned baby, she was placed in a grocery bag made of cloth and placed on a tree.

They turned over the baby boy to the local barangay and then to DZMM, which in turn, called the attention of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD). It was not the first time that I went to the nursery for abandoned children of the DSWD. The room was quiet with a male nurse attending to their new client, Baby Boy. He was the smallest of all the children there, being the newest one, at four days old. Most of the children were quietly sleeping, oblivious to our presence. A boy caught my attention. He was the oldest of the lot. My guess is he’s about four years old. Unlike the other kids in cribs, he occupied a bed. I assumed he was in the nursery because he needed special attention. He was curious when he saw us and sat on his bed but couldn’t do more than that. His left foot was deformed, while his right was on cast. I tried to talk to him, but he was awkward. The nurse called him AF. If I remember correctly, AF was run-over but turned over to DSWD by a concerned citizen.

In my mind, I wondered: Which is worse for a child — to be abandoned since birth, or to be abandoned at an age when he’s already aware of it? The sad part of it is, children like AF, with physical deformities, take longer time to be adopted.

Before leaving, I saw a toddler playing on a mat. He did not hesitate to approach us. He was quiet like the other children. But he gave us a bear hug and threw a tantrum when we were leaving. Abandoned children are longing for touch and love.

Joy Cabiles of DSWD-National Capital Region is encouraging couples to be foster parents. Interested couples must first attend a foster care forum at the DSWD every second and third Friday of the month at the DSWD-NCR office. They need to prove their worthiness and capability to take care of a child. A foster parent can choose the gender and age of the child. “They can also adopt their foster child as long attachment and bonding has been certified as legally available for adoption,” says Cabiles.

Like the baby boy abandoned in a carideria, the DSWD will have to exhaust all means to look for the parents of the child. Normally, it takes three months for a child to be declared legally available for adoption, or even longer.

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For inquiries, you may call the DSWD at (02)488-2754 or (02)734-8622.

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