Women told to seek assistance if  incapable of taking care of infants
January 11, 2013
Women told to seek assistance if incapable of taking care of infants

While speculations are rife about why the body of a newborn baby was placed in a garbage receptacle in Kingstown last week, hope is being offered to pregnant women, as well as persons who have young children, but are incapable of managing or unwilling to take care of them.{{more}}

Such persons are advised that there are avenues which may be taken, instead of the abandonment of the young ones.

The advice is being given, in light of the discovery of the newborn baby boy by a homeless man in a garbage drum, on January 3, next to the abandoned British American building construction site.

Anton Caesar, assistant coordinator in the Gender Affairs division of the Ministry of National Mobilization, proposed that individuals who are facing challenges give the infants up for adoption, or place the children in foster care, until they are able to care for them.

He also suggested that these persons seek counselling from the various agencies that are available in St Vincent and the Grenadines.

“To females in particular, on unwanted births, we are saying for sure you need to get some counselling; there is the family affairs division within the ministry; there is also the gender affairs.

“There are also outside agencies that you can talk to concerning problems that you face while you are having your pregnancy; there are the churches, the Marion House, even the nurses in your district and so forth.

“We know there are women and fathers, and families who would want to adopt a child or take a child into foster care and hold it for the relevant time.”

Caesar indicated that the process of adoption is conducted by the Family Court, while foster care is handled through Family Affairs.

According to information received from the family affairs division regarding foster care, a parent who may not want to keep a child could present the case to the division, which will be investigated by a case worker.

The next step would be for the case worker to search for immediate family members who would be willing to care for the child. If none are available, searches will be made in the wider community.

When a suitable individual is found, that person will be appointed to care for the child until he or she is 18 years of age.

At any point, the parent may visit the child, or reclaim the child, as long as he or she is deemed fit to do so.

As regards the recent incident, Caesar said that it was too soon to draw conclusions as to the reason the child was disposed of in the manner it was, but noted that the person or persons involved should seek help as soon as possible.

“Let’s just say it can be financial problems, it could be stress… that there are a number of teenagers who are committing suicide, and maybe she is going through other problems…. We can’t be too harsh on the person until we know for sure from further investigation, which is being conducted by the police, (but) abandonment is a crime and you will be held responsible,” Caesar noted.

“Social workers do have an obligation to the state, and all instances of a criminal nature must be reported to the relevant agencies.

“In this particular case, if it’s infanticide, where the child was born alive and died, it must be reported.

“In the case that the child was born dead, all births must be reported and all deaths must be reported, and in the event that it is not reported you are liable under a criminal act. I think its concealment of information, and we have a civil duty to report this information.

“You need to come clean, give yourself up, and you need counselling and you need someone to talk to. You need the help, it’s the best thing to do,” Caesar said.

The father of one said that his agency, along with the others he mentioned, are willing to assist not only the persons responsible, but any others who do not think that they are capable of taking care of an unborn or young child.

“Hearing about this incident it always pains anybody and in the manner in which it happened. But we would always advise that you seek assistance, seek some help.”

Statistics from the family affairs division show that in 2010, 98 cases of child abandonment were reported.

Statistics for 2011 and 2012 were not available.