2 women offer to adopt infant found in rubbish bin

In a gruesome introduction to life, a newborn boy who was discarded like a piece of garbage could have suffocated while trapped inside a tied-up plastic bag in a rubbish bin.

But he showed an instinct for survival by crying loudly to alert two cleaners, who then rescued him from the bin.

Now two women have come forward to offer the infant a home after reading about his traumatic experience in The New Paper yesterday.

Indicating her interest in an e-mail to TNP, Ms Susan Tan, 40, said she works in human resources and lives in a four-room flat with her husband, their two daughters, aged 11 and nine, and a maid.

"It's very sad that someone would throw the baby in the rubbish like this. As much as it is tragic, he is a very lucky baby to have survived," she said in a phone interview.

"I'm willing to take care of him for as long as it takes. But if his parents are found and want him back, I'm also willing to give him back."

Ms Tan added that she is open to adopting the baby but has yet to discuss this with her husband, who is in his 40s and works in maintenance.

"I think my husband would be happy because he would love to have a boy."

The other woman, who gave her name as Ms Wong, said in her e-mail that she sympathises with the plight of the baby, and if no one is found to care for him, she would be glad to do so.

She did not respond to TNP's request for an interview.

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The infant was found in a rubbish chute bin at Block 534 Bedok North Street 3 on Tuesday morning.

One of the cleaners, Mr Patwari Shamin, 24, told reporters he heard a baby crying in one of the bins and dug through bags of rubbish before finding the baby in a tied-up white plastic bag.

He alerted his supervisor, who called the police.

He said the boy, who was naked and crying loudly, had blood on his body and his umbilical cord was still attached.

The police went knocking door-to-door in the 13-storey block to try to find the parents, who are still missing. Investigations are ongoing.

Under Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) regulations, certain criteria must be fulfilled before a child can be adopted.

The MSF website shows there were 433 applicants in 2018 and 375 in 2017.

To adopt a child, both the prospective adopters must be Singapore residents who are at least 25 years old and at least 21 years older than the child. They should not be more than 50 years older than the child.

Single males are not allowed to adopt a girl unless there are special circumstances.

Prospective adopters must attend a compulsory pre-adoption briefing before applying for a home study report, where one of four accredited voluntary welfare organisations (VWOs) will assess eligibility to adopt the child.

One of the VWOs told TNP the process can be long, with the home study report taking two to three months and the legal process another six to nine months to complete.

The home study comprises two stages - an interview with the applicants, followed by a home visit.

The spokesman said: "During the home visit, the officer will look out for things such as whether the home is child-proof with window grilles. We will also speak to the other family members living in the flat."

Checks into the applicants' backgrounds, such as their medical history and criminal record, if any, will be conducted.

After the child is adopted, the adoptive parents must begin a legal process, during which they will apply to the Family Court with the required documents for an Adoption Order.

Help centres that TNP spoke to said that most distressed mothers who call them do not consider abandoning their baby as an option.

Madam Azrahayu Ahmad Afandi, a casework supervisor at Babes Pregnancy Crisis Support, said they receive about 400 calls a year, and a significant number enquire about abortion.

Ms Jennifer Heng, the director of Safe Place, said that while many pregnant women do ask about abortion, about 60 to 70 per cent of them eventually opt to have the child and self-parent.

"I would think that someone would be in extreme fear if she were to abandon her baby," she added.

"Those who do so are in a position where they don't know what to do. It's not something that is premeditated."

This article was first published in The New Paper. Permission required for reproduction.