Abandoned babies: When motherhood becomes a burden




Alarmingly, new born babies, as young as one-day-old, have been abandoned in different parts of the country by mothers, sometimes of who are never identified. PAUL OKAH takes a look at the trend.

Many young girls and women have been known to abandon new-born babies in different parts of the country, including in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), for reasons ranging from lack of wherewithal to take care of the baby, the baby being a product of rape or unplanned pregnancy.

While some of these abandoned babies have been found in good health, others have not been lucky as they are either found dead or efforts to save them fail having been exposed to the elements by the mothers or such abandoned babies are mauled to death by animals, raising questions of why such mothers couldn’t have taken such babies to the door steps of hospitals, orphanages, churches or mosques for better care.

Ironically, the number of children dumped keeps increasing even as many families battles with fertility issues and are willing to do everything possible, medically, spiritually and otherwise to have children of their own.

Unplanned pregnancies

Young girls and women have been known to end up with unplanned pregnancies and babies they would rather abandon than face the life of single parent in a society that stigmatises and even ostracises members who are pregnant out of wedlock. Usually, the man responsible for the pregnancy would deny paternity and leave the lady to her fate and doesn’t face any consequences from society. In such a situation, the woman is left with the decision of either terminating the pregnancy or carrying it to term only to abandon the baby after it is born.

In some case the lady concerned may be a minor and even a student depending on her parents or relatives for survival hence would rather abandon her baby for others to raise rather than bear the shame of having a child out of wedlock. In such a situation, the girl may abandon the baby at the doorstep of an orphanage and go back to her life.

Poverty factor

With the state of the nation’s economy it is not a surprise for teenage girls and young women to blame poverty for their inability to take care of a new born baby. Often when an abandoned baby is discovered and the mother traced, the readily available excuse she may give would be that her action was because of her inability to provide for a new baby.

Rape

With increasing incident of rape many women would rather throw away their new-born baby than raise a product of rape. This is especially if the foetus could not be aborted at earlier stage of pregnancy for several reasons. In such a situation, the women concerned, may choose to either abandon the new born baby in a hospital or on far away path where the baby cannot be traced to her.

Failed abortions

On September 15, 2018, a 17-year-old girl who abandoned her one-day-old baby delivered at a private hospital in Galadima, a community in Bwari Area Council of Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory. She was subsequently apprehended by the police and handed over to the Social Welfare Department of the FCT Administration.

The teenage mother, a resident of Dutse, according to reports, was impregnated by a man who is said to be mentally challenged and has no capacity to take care of a child, and hence her decision to abandon the baby in the hospital and run away.

It was gathered that the girl had gone to the hospital for the delivery after undergoing series of pregnancy related pains and after she had a successful delivery, she handed the baby girl over to the doctor and had successfully sneaked out of the hospital when the doctor raised an alarm and she was nabbed.

A nurse in the hospital was quoted as saying: “She claimed she would not be able to take care of the baby, and that the father who could have assisted is insane.”

Month old baby recovered in Abuja

Also, on September 2, 2019, a one-month baby boy was found in the bush behind Sharia Court of Appeal in Abaji, the FCT. It was gathered that a farmer found the baby wrapped in a cloth and drenched by the early morning downpour behind the Sharia Court while going to his farm.

According to Daily Trust, a resident, identified as Ibrahim, however, said the baby later died after he was taken to the hospital by officials from the Social Welfare Department of Abaji Area Council.

The Abaji Divisional Police Officer (DPO), CSP Umar Musa, said he was alerted that a baby boy was found dumped in the bush behind the Sharia Court in the area.

He said police officers were deployed to the scene and conveyed the child to officials of the social welfare department of the area council, adding that they were investigating the incident.

Lack of wherewithal

Also, on June 13, this year, Favour Abdulazeez, who claimed to be the mother of a baby girl abandoned at the backyard of an apartment in Kuje, Abuja, solicited financial assistance from the public to enable her to claim and take care of the baby.

Ms. Abdulazeez was said to have been delivered of the baby girl on June 13 and secretly put her in a carton and took her to a nearby bush behind her house at night, where she abandoned the baby.

A resident in the area, who pleaded anonymity, told NAN that Abdulazeez is her neighbour, adding that it was the cry of the baby that drew the attention of passers-by who later took the baby to the police.

Ms. Abdulazeez told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that she abandoned her baby because she was jobless, divorced and had no means of fostering the child.

She said that when she kept the carton with the baby inside the bush, she did not go away but hid in the bush to know who would pick the baby.

She stated that she did this to enable her know the person who would pick the baby girl to enable her to do a follow-up and eventually turned up at the police outpost in Gwagwalada on Friday to claim ownership of the baby.

“All along, I was monitoring the baby’s situation, I know those who picked the baby and took her to the police. I was listening to their conversation from my hide out; I even followed them from a distance when they were taking my baby away. I told the police that I would take care of my baby if only the government would assist me with a job or a trade no matter how small,” she said.

The Police Area Command in Gwagwalada Inspector Yahaya Musa had declined comments on the matter, saying that he was not authorised to speak to journalists on the matter and instead referred NAN reporter to the social welfare unit of the Gwagwalada Area Council for further enquiries.

Hanatu Turu, Head of the Social Welfare Department of Gwagwalada Area Council, said that she was aware of the incident and that the police should be allowed to conclude their investigations.

Similarly, Daily Trust report had it that a baby girl was found wrapped in a cloth at about 5.00pm on Wednesday, August 10, 2016, and was on oxygen support with discharges from her umbilical cord and private part, with doctors battling to save the baby’s life; fearing she must have been exposed for long before she was noticed.

Residents of the area where the infant was found, said they could not tell who could have dumped the baby there but they were alerted by her cries.

A concerned resident said: “Obviously, not knowing what to do, the people who found her took the baby to the police station in Kubwa.”

The Divisional Police Officer (DPO), of the Kubwa Division, CSP Nurudeen Sabo, confirmed the ugly incident, saying that the baby was responding to treatment and would be taken to an orphanage after her full recovery, promising that the police were making effort to track the mother.

“The baby is on oxygen; they (doctors) said mucus is coming out from the umbilical cord and private part. She is still receiving treatment,” he said.

FCTA reacts

On Wednesday, October 9, 2019, the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) decried the high rate at which new born babies are being abandoned across the nooks and crannies of the territory.

Acting Secretary of the FCT Social Development Secretariat (SDS), FCTA, Mrs Safiya Umar said this when she took delivery of a baby boy abandoned in Sauka, along Airport road, Abuja.

Umar said the situation was becoming worrisome and very disturbing to the FCTA, recalling that recently, two babies, a female and male were found and brought to the secretariat by good Samaritans on different times.

She said that the babies had since been named after the FCT Minister of State, Hajia Ramatu Aliyu and the FCT Permanent Secretary, Mr Christian Ohaa for identification purposes.

She admonished young ladies and women in the FCT to explore and cultivate the use of condom if they can’t abstain from premarital sex which oftentimes lead to unwanted pregnancies and their subsequent abandonment to the government.

Umar disclosed that the FCTA would soon unveil a mechanism which would address and curtail to the barest minimum the incessant and alarming rate of child abandonment in the FCT.

She said: “Naturally, no responsible government will fold its hands and watch babies and innocent children being left to die by their supposed biological parents because they suddenly realised they no longer want the same child they have incubated for nine good months to live.

“So, we shall keep accepting the children in our homes and after the mandatory period of three months in our homes, we shall make them available for fostering and possible adoption for interested applicants and adopters.

“We shall apprehend these category of culprits, those that require rehabilitation will receive same while others will be compelled to assume some level of responsibility in the upkeep of the child with the government. Those that have the means to cater for the child but chose to abandon them will be taught how to be responsible.”

The Director of Gender in the Secretariat, Mrs Agnes Hart, explained that the baby was sent to the secretariat from the National Hospital Abuja, having  been in their care since September 14, when he was brought in.

She thanked management of the hospital for responding swiftly to the medical needs and stabilising the baby for the past two weeks before he was taken to the FCT Gender Department of SDS.

Hart advised members of the public to approach the secretariat for further enquiries about the babies.

She noted that the FCTA had put in place relevant infrastructure, including welfare and upkeep of the infants in FCT Orphanages to cater adequately for their special and pecuniary needs.

“The baby was abandoned by the road side in Sauka in a bag with the unclamped umbilical cord alongside the placenta intact by a good spirited Nigerian, accompanied by the Police to the National Hospital Abuja,” she said.

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