Hundreds of babies are left behind at children’s hospitals in HCMC every year due to unwanted pregnancies or economic hardship.
A ten-day-old baby was recently abandoned at the Ho Chi Minh City Children’s Hospital No.2 in healthy condition.
Hospital staff said they found a letter in a bag left with the baby that said the mother was too poor to raise the child.
She had given birth on her own and borrowed just enough money to buy a set of clothing for the newborn infant.
“Abandoned babies are often found wrapped up in clothing in some corner of the hospital, or are picked up by passers-by and given over to the hospital after being left on nearby sidewalks,” Nguyen Thi Ranh, a medical assistant from HCMC Children’s Hospital No. 2, said.
Hospital workers said some mothers were too poor to raise their newborns and thought the children would have better lives if they were adopted by someone else, while others just wanted to dump their unexpected burden stemming from the result of broken love affairs.
Some babies were ditched because they were born with defects or diagnosed with fatal diseases that parents thought to be incurable or didn’t have enough money to pay for treatments, according to Ranh.
She said some parents registered false names and addresses so the hospital couldn’t trace them.
The site then would have to care for the abandoned babies for years to treat their diseases.
BABIES ABANDONED AT HCMC HOSPITALS IN 2007
Tu Du Maternity Hospital: 120
HCMC Children’s Hospital No. 2: 50
Hung Vuong Maternity Hospital: 35
In another case, a prematurely-born baby, weighing 1.8 kilograms and afflicted with a gullet disease, was left at HCMC Children’s Hospital No. 1.
He was treated at the hospital for two months before being given to an orphanage in Go Vap District.
“We sometimes receive contacts from the moms of the abandoned kids, and learn that they are teenage mothers,” said Cam Ngoc Phuong, head of the recuperation ward at HCMC Children’s Hospital No. 1.
“The dumped newborns were unexpected babies, as the mothers weren’t equipped with knowledge about contraception nor were they versed in raising children.”
Fate left to chance
According to normal procedures, the hospitals would take care of the abandoned infants, offering care and treatment while also filling out appropriate documentation to confirm their abandoned status.
The babies would later be given to orphanages and charity centers under the ratification of the Department of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs, if concerned authorities fail to trace their parents.
A medical assistant from HCMC Children’s Hospital No. 2 said some mothers who had abandoned their babies would return to the hospital years later to find their children.
“Some parents also retrieved their offspring after the hospital announced they were cured of the fatal diseases,” she said.
However, Dr. Phuong from HCMC Children’s Hospital No.1 disputes the notion that many parents would reunite with their abandoned children.
“During my 18 years working at the hospital, I have never seen any mother come back to find her baby,” she said.
The abandoned babies in HCMC hospitals are given to many charity centers in the city, including the Go Vap SOS Children’s Village, Tam Binh Orphanage and Thu Duc Children’s Village.
A medical assistant at an orphanage in the city said most healthy babies get adopted soon after entering the centers.
Reported by Thanh Tung