Mechanism to handover unwanted babies soon - State Minister

Mothers, who don’t want to take care of their babies, will be given the opportunity to hand over such babies to a window set up under the Ministry.

Women, Children Affairs and Social Empowerment State Minister Geetha Kumarasinghe said that based on several incidents reported in the media recently, a discourse has been created about the need for a system to safely hand over such babies to a center run by the Probation and Childcare Authority under the of Women, Children Affairs and Social Empowerment Ministry.

It has been noticed that certain babies are abandoned or killed on the streets by some mothers on various reasons. Baby receiving centres will be established for mothers who are unable to take care of babies to hand over their babies without revealing identities, she said.

The State Minister said unwanted or uncarable children are sometimes handed over to the Probation and Childcare Services Department or to child care centers supervised by the Ministry. “But in most cases babies are abandoned in other places such as hospitals, streets and railway stations while a very small number of children are killed by their parents.

According to the report on Abandoned Infants forwarded by the DIG Crime and Organized Crime Division of Sri Lanka Police Headquarters to the National Child Protection Authority on 11 July 2020, the number of abandoned or murdered babies from January 2017 to June 2020 is 42. According to the 2019 Statistical Report on children in Childcare Centers, conducted jointly by the Department of Probation and Childcare and Department of Census and Statistics, 10,632 children are in foster care at the time. Of them 13 per cent or 1,379, were abandoned or orphaned children.

“According to the existing system, the Provincial Probation Department currently provides the necessary care for children who are abandoned or handed over to the Department. There is a possibility of directly handing over the children to the government foster homes operating under the Provincial Probation Departments, but the identity of the mother or guardian must be disclosed during the handover process,” she added. Currently, there are 379 child care centers under the supervision of the Provincial Probation Department in the country. The Provincial Probation Departments work for appropriate adoption of the children who are accepted under the Provincial Departments. But considering the current situation, it is also observed that there is a significant delay in sending children for legal adoption.

It is proposed to establish windows in 379 child care centers supervised by government hospitals and provincial probation departments and provide appropriate facilities and issue necessary guidelines to keep babies under 3 months of age confidential and safe without revealing their identity. Under this, mothers have the ability to secretly keep the baby at a window close to her without revealing her identity. It has been planned to fix a specific period (6 months) for handing over babies, who received childcare centers to be put up for legal adoption. Accordingly moves are under way to amendment the Adoption Act and if the amendment is completed soon, the necessary legal background will be provided. Because there is a risk of someone else’s child being left at these windows due to theft or any other reason, the child was kept in a government foster home for three months before the children were sent for adoption. Besides, moves are under way to prepare a special and simple method for preparing legal documents like birth certificate of such abandoned children and preparing a specific and simple legal procedure to be followed in giving such abandoned children for adoption.

However it is essential to consult with the Provincial Probation Departments, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Health, the Registrar General’s Department and the Attorney General’s Department to reach a final agreement regarding this proposed system, she said.



by Daily News Sri Lanka

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