Abandoned newborn baby found by Dugui Too farmer
posted 31-May-2018  ·  
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Authorities are now close to identifying the woman who abandoned her newly-born baby boy at the foot of a banana grove in the hinterland barangay of Dugui Too in Virac last week.

Sources close to the investigation being made by the Virac police station and the Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office (MSWDO) claimed the person of interest is a 19-year old girl who arrived recently just to cast her vote in the May 14, 2018 barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections.

The girl’s boyfriend allegedly confided to barangay officials his relationship with the girl about a year ago until the girl’s parents told her to leave for Metro Manila seven months ago as they allegedly disagreed with her choice.

Prior to the development, barangay officials had said there was no pregnant resident who was about to give birth.

With the discovery of a decomposing baby girl dumped in trash box at the Catanduanes State University main building still fresh in their minds, the news from the capital town’s forested interior again stirred the interest of the public.

The police learned of the incident when barangay captain reported the matter just after bringing the infant to the Eastern Bicol Medical Center for treatment in the morning of May 16.

According to the report, farmer Michael Beo, who is in his 30’s was guiding his carabao to its pasture at about 6 A.M. when he heard the cry of a baby. When the cries failed to subside, he began to investigate, leaving his carabao behind.

He found the baby face down surrounded by fresh drops of blood at the foot of the banana grove about 20 meters away from the houses. The umbilical cord and placenta were still attached to the baby, which he brought to the house of the village chief, Leo Teleb. It is claimed that the infant had some injuries, including the mark of a bamboo stake at its forehead.

The chairman, together with his wife, immediately drove his motorcycle to the provincial hospital, where the baby, said to be born premature at eight months with a body weight of just one kilo, was confined at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).

Staff of the MSWDO took over the duty of looking after the baby on the second day, with costs of confinement to be shouldered by the municipal government.

Under the law, all efforts including radio announcements and publication of a notice in a newspaper are to be exerted to find the mother of a foundling within a period of three months from its finding. During this period, the foundling is placed in custody of the DSWD at its Reception Study Center for Children (RSCC) in Ligao, Albay, a facility for abandoned, neglected and surrendered children.

“Let us not be judgmental of the mother, as she may have been be suffering from post-partum depression at the time she decided to abandon the baby,” MSWD Officer Jean Triumfante said.

The barangay captain, who has three girls with his wife, has reportedly expressed interest in adopting the baby boy whose life he helped saved.

ADOPTION NOT AN EASY PROCESS

Adopting a foundling, however, is easier said than done, according to the MSWDO.

In case the foundling’s mother can no longer be found, the DSWD regional office recommends to the central office the declaration of the foundling as legally available for adoption, for which no less than the DSWD Secretary issues the required certification.

In all cases of abandoned, neglected and surrendered children, the MSWDO has to make a case assessment before the filing of the petition with the regional office. The social worker has to look at the details of how the child was abandoned, neglected or surrendered, the background of the parents and the circumstances of how the child ended up in the care of the government.

This is necessary, Triumfante stated, in case the adoptee decides to look for his or her real parents in the future.

Once the certification is issued, a licensed adoption agency matches the child with a potential adoptive family, who then undergoes preparation to ensure readiness and acceptance, including a supervised six-month trial custody while the adoption petition is heard at the Regional Trial Court.

The Court’s issuance of a final decree of adoption and amended birth certificate has the effect of severing all legal ties between the biological parent(s) and the adoptee, except when the biological parent is the spouse of the adopter. Compared to foster care which is temporary substitute parental case, adoption is permanent in nature.

The adoptee is deemed as a legitimate child of the adopter, with the decree giving both reciprocal rights and obligations arising from the relationship of parent and child, including but not limited to the right of the adopter to choose the name the child is to be known and the right of the adopter and adoptee to be legal and compulsory heirs of each other.

More often than not, however, biological parents make direct placement of the child to a relative within the 4th degree of consanguinity in what the law describes as family or relative adoption.

In the past, this type of adoption is “fast-tracked” by the adopter through birth simulation, in which the baby or child is present to the civil registration officer as born to the adopting couple and registered late.  In effect, simulation of birth tampers with the civil registry by making it appear in the birth records that a certain child was born to a person who is not his or her biological parent, causing the child to lose his or her true identity and status.

“Simulation of birth is not adoption. It is a crime punishable under Philippine laws,” the DSWD said in encouraging those who resorted to fictitious registration of a child to legally adopt the child.

Already, at least two cases of birth simulations have been heard at the local court, with petitioners seeking to declare as null and void the birth certificates of the adoptee in an apparent squabble over inheritance following the death of the adoptive parent.

The Virac MSWDO has currently four pending cases of adoption in which the children have been given to adoptive parents since birth. An inter-country adoption case has been okayed recently while a local teacher is now awaiting the release of the DSWD secretary’s certification for her adoption of a child.

Since it would be emotionally difficult to separate the child who has already bonded with the adoptive parents and place him or her in DSWD custody pending the approval of the petition, the adoptive parents are advised to file for accreditation as foster parents during the period.

A case study is made on the adoptee’s relationship with the adoptive parents, the latter’s economic capacity and other factors while the biological family of the adoptee undergo interviews to determine their readiness to give up the child and its consequences.

THE IMPORTANCE OF LEGAL ADOPTION

The adoption and foster care of a child is covered by several laws: Republic Act 9523, “An Act Requiring Certification of the DSWD to Declare a Child Legally Available for Adoption”; RA 8552, the “Domestic Adoption Act”; and, RA 10165, the “Foster Care Act of 2012”.

The DSWD has intensified a campaign to encourage families to devote some of their time and devote some of their resources to abandoned, neglected and surrendered children by becoming foster or adoptive parents.

“We are monitoring cases of parents who ask people to whom they owe large debts to adopt their children so that they can be cleared from their debts.  This is a clear form of child trafficking and we want to end this by establishing stronger links with national government agencies, local government units (LGUs) and the public so that we can all be on the look-out against it,” then Sec. Judy Taguiwalo said.

An agreement between DSWD, the Department of Education, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), and the Department of Health in 2017 sought to ensure that all schools, local government units, and health and medical facilities are made aware of the importance of legal adoption.

Under the MOA, DepEd shall include adoption and other forms of alternative family care and child placement as a subject matter in the school curriculum in all levels.

The DILG, on the other hand, shall supervise and guide the LGUs in ensuring that all surrendered, neglected, and/or abandoned children in their barangay/city/municipality/province be assessed and declared legally available for adoption by the DSWD before placement for adoption.

For its part, DOH shall ensure that all health and medical facilities have competent and trained professionals who will report to the DSWD and appropriate authorities. They will also provide services needed by children and parents who are at risk of or in a situation of abandoning and surrendering their children for adoption. Likewise, DOH shall establish, sustain, and monitor the system of reporting abandoned, abused, and neglected children in lying-in clinics or hospitals.

Those interested in becoming adoptive or foster parents must be Filipino citizens of legal age, including dual citizens, in possession of full civil capacity and legal rights, of good moral character, has not been convicted of any crime involving moral turpitude, and are emotionally and psychologically capable of caring for children.

Among the basic requirements include the certificate of live birth of applicants, certificate of marriage, physical and medical evaluation, NBI or police clearance, latest Income Tax Return or any other documents showing financial capacity, character references, pictures of applicants and immediate family, and certificate of attendance to pre-adoption/foster care forum.


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