Thai Kim Cuc and her adopted daughter Thai Kim Tai. Photo courtesy of Tuoi Tre
Thai Kim Cuc, 61, was recently evicted from her rented room in Ho Chi Minh City after the woman's adopted daughter Thai Kim Tai, 23, allegedly killed her 18-month-old son.
Cuc said local authorities could have acted more quickly on her "urgent request" to have Tai, 23, committed to an asylum, Tuoi Tre reported Tuesday.
Cuc found the infant in the room on April 26 as she was leaving to obtain a birth certificate for him.
"I brought him to a medical center and they told me he was dead. I have not even gotten him a birth certificate and he's dead," Cuc said in tears.
Tai was summoned to the police station but was returned home a few hours later.
Cuc said she had sent the request for medical intervention for Tai to the administration and police of Ward 7, District 8, the day before, saying that Tai had been showing "signs of mental illness," such as not coming home for days on end and frequently beaten both Cuc and the baby. Tai is unemployed and has never attended school.
Cuc said in the request that she earns VND100,000 (US$4.8) a day helping out at a small restaurant in order to cover the cost of meals for herself and Tai, plus milk for the baby.
"Any time Tai asked me for money and I refused, she attacked me with fists and kicks. I am old and I would not be able to bear that for long, and she has been even beating the baby, her own child pulling his hair, kicking his rear, strangling his neck and bruising his genitals," Cuc wrote in the request.
It said Tai was seen strangling and throwing the baby on April 24 by Cuc as well as several neighbors, who also signed on to the request.
"I'm constantly scared. I'm afraid that the beatings will break me down some day and I will not be able to work to feed the baby. But then when I go to work, I'm afraid the baby's life will be threatened. So I really need the authorities to intervene in my urgent situation," Cuc said in the plea that came too late.
Do Thi Phuong Thao, an official in charge of social issues at Ward 7, told Tuoi Tre she received the request just two hours before the baby's death.
Thao said the ward would help obtain health insurance for Tai, plus VND360,000 a month in support if examinations confirm she needs psychiatric attention.
Doctor Nguyen Ngoc Quang, director of Ho Chi Minh City Center of Forensic Psychiatry, said his center is willing to examine Tai for free and forgo the normal price of VND500,000. Neither Cuc nor Tai has an ID card, and they will need an introduction letter from their ward to place Tai into a mental health facility.
Cuc, who is not married and does not have her own children, has been raising Tai since she was a newborn after receiving her from a person trying give her away in front of Tu Du, a famous obstetrics hospital in the city.
The adoptive mother said she has always been poor, and that keeping an eye on Tai has been a major burden. The baby was Tai's second child. She gave birth to another boy in 2011, who was later adopted by a pagoda.
Cuc intended to raise Tai's second son, or find him a proper family.
Using donations from her neighbors, Cuc had the boy cremated on April 28.
Afterward, she only had VND50,000 to her name, which she used to hire a car to move her belongings the most valuable among them an electric fan to a new rented room.
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