A newborn baby boy, who was found in a bin packet dumped along Olivine Road in Everest Heights. His mother was later arrested.
With the crisis of mothers dumping their babies, Mala Pather, social worker supervisor at the Verulam Child and Family Welfare Society, called out and encouraged mothers to consider other options either than abandoning their babies.
The Phoenix and Verulam areas have witnessed a horrifying increase in the number of babies found by vagrants, ransacking rubbish bins for food and scraps to sell.
Pather shared with the Phoenix Sun some of the reasons why mothers abandon their children.
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“There are a number of reasons why mothers abandon their children. Some of these mothers lose the love and support of their partners, family members, and friends, after disclosing that they are pregnant. This leaves the mothers feeling like they have no one to turn to. Others realise that they will not be able to give their children the financial support of baby formula, nappies, clothes, and eventually school fees. A lot of these mothers feel embarrassment and shame about how their babies were conceived. Infants born as a result of a one night stand and extra-marital affairs, have mothers feeling ashamed,” Pather said.
She went on to explain that the families of these expectant mothers may not always approve of the father of the child and thus result in the mother abandoning the infant in fear of being rejected by their family.
Pather explained what options mothers can explore.
“There are three options that expectant mothers can consider. Mothers may consider adoption, foster care and having willing family members raise the baby,” Pather explained.
When considering adoption, both biological parents of the baby must agree to the baby being adopted, before approaching the social workers.
Parents of the baby have 60 legal days to confirm whether or not to give up the baby for adoption. After the 60-day mark has passed, the babies are placed in the care of their adoptive parents.
Adoptive parents go through a process called screening, where social workers interview the prospective adoptive parents. Prospective parents also undergo psychological and medical assessments.
Friends and family of prospective adoptive parents are also interviewed for character references.
“Adoptive parents go through a relationship assessment with social workers to make sure both parents are committed to the process,” she said.
Prospective adoptive parents undergo a police clearance, in the National Child Protection Register and National Register of sexual offenders.
When considering foster care, mothers can place their babies in the temporary placement of a suitable person through social workers, who is not the parent or guardian of the child.
“Mothers who still want to complete their studies or who are seeking employment but cannot afford to support their children can consider the foster care option. Children taken to foster care should be under the age of 18,” Pather said.
Mothers can visit their nearest clinics, hospitals, and child welfare centres or their nearest Department of Social Development office to begin the process of foster care.
When considering having an immediate or extended family member to raise a newborn baby, mothers should have a meeting with family members and a social worker.
Mothers should ensure that the prospective foster parent is 18 years and older, healthy and fit and be willing and able to financially look after the baby.
The foster parent should have a home environment that encourages the child’s growth and development.
“Mothers who feel like they do not have anyone to turn to can visit their nearest child welfare society centres. These mothers should know that they do not have to face their challenges all by themselves. We, as the Child Welfare, are there for those mothers,” she said.
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With each option, a mother decides to explore, a social worker should be in the midst of each decision.
Expectant mothers can contact the nearest Child Welfare to them.
Mothers can contact the Tongaat Child and Family Welfare Society on 032 944-1514 or visit Potgieters Hill, 16 Tesco Drive, Tongaat 4399 or Verulam Child and Family Welfare Society on 032 533-1046 or visit 5 Church Street, Verulam, 4339 and Phoenix Child and Family Welfare Society on 031 500-3671 or visit 10 Featherstone Pl, Whetstone Phoenix, 4068.
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