It’s all over the news. A Gulf Air passenger gave birth somewhere between the Middle East and Manila, and she decided to leave the baby in the trash can of the comfort room. I’m not easily moved to tears but when I read about it today, I almost cried.
The baby was found in time, brought to the hospital and, according to the doctors who were interviewed, his vital signs are okay. Good for him. And so many have offered to adopt him although the DSWD has already released a statement that efforts to find the baby’s mother or her family will have to first be exerted before the child can be officially declared “abandoned” and available for adoption.
An accompanying report in this evening’s news cited statistics that more than 900 babies have been abandoned in the Philippines over the last 12 months or so.
For most mothers, the abandonment of the newborn boy in the trash bin of the Gulf Air plane, especially the manner by which it was done, is nothing short of abhorrent. When I was pregnant with Sam, it was such a difficult pregnancy and I almost lost her three times. I won’t bore you with the horrific hospital tales. Suffice to say that I guess we were a tenacious pair, Sam and I, and we just held on to each other until she was ready to be born — a month early, as it turned out. The threat of losing her all those times has always made me acutely aware of how much I am willing to do, and what I am willing to go through, just to keep my child safe and safely with me.
In that sense, it is rather difficult to fathom how a mother can voluntarily abandon her own child. But the mother who gave birth in the Gulf Air plane did leave her child to die there undiscovered.
The most popular theory going around, helped along by the media which, as usual, is engaging in guesswork, is that the mother is probably a Filipina and even more probably a domestic helper in the Middle East. I know that most people who have read about the incident have already judged the mother. I won’t. If she is indeed a Filipina, and we have heard so many horror stories about Filipina domestic helpers getting sexually abused by their employers, I wonder if the child was the result of sexual abuse. If it was, I don’t know what kind of anguish the mother was going through to make her decide to leave her child to die. I know cases where rape victims could not even bear to look at their children because they were a constant reminder of the violence and humiliation.
So easy to judge, so easy to condemn. I think the mother deserves to be heard too if she is ever found.
As for other mothers who were not rape victims but who abandoned their children as well… I really think it’s high time that we pay more attention to the problem of unplanned and unwanted pregnancies. If every sexually active person is equipped with the correct information, there might be no unwanted pregnancies and no abandoned babies.