January 16, 2020 / 4:57 AM / 5 days ago

Unwanted no more: adoption offers pour in for baby found in Singapore bin

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - An abandoned baby rescued from a bin in Singapore has aroused widespread sympathy, drawing several offers of adoption, according to authorities and media in the city-state wrestling with low birth rates.

FILE PHOTO: Police officers and cleaners inspect the contents of a bin at a rubbish chute, after a baby was found alive among rubbish in a bin at a public housing estate in Singapore, January 7, 2020. Lim Yaohui/The Straits Times via REUTERS

Aside from adoption enquiries received by child protection services, at least six women have written to local daily The New Paper saying they wanted to care for or adopt the baby.

“I am willing to do anything for the baby,” Shahirah Slamat, 34, said in comments published by the paper.

“I feel so jealous when I see people pregnant. My sister has five children...We want a child so much.”

Rubbish collectors found the crying baby last week in a bloody plastic bag while clearing rubbish from a bin at the foot of a trash chute on a local housing estate.

A local politician said the baby could have been crushed by a compactor if it were not for the cleaners’ intervention.

In the wake of the incident, many have lamented the rare case of abandonment in the wealthy island nation which has the second-fastest ageing population in the world after South Korea and one of the lowest fertility rates globally.

Latest data shows the number of births in Singapore fell to an eight-year low in 2018.

“Oh why people abandon their babies? We are in need of a population growth so don’t abandon the babies and I’m more than happy to adopt one if the conditions are right,” social media user Leong Lim said in a Facebook post.

The Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) said in response to Reuters’ questions on Wednesday that several people had enquired about adopting the baby, which was in stable condition. Police said investigations into the incident were ongoing.

While the child’s birth parents, who have not been named by authorities, were mostly criticised on social media, some said more understanding was needed considering the stigma surrounding single mothers.

“We should step up efforts to support them and reduce stigma rather than judge these women and young girls who may be not far from being children themselves,” said another Facebook user Abirame Subramanian.

Baby abandonment is rare in the city-state, which has a population of about 5.7 million. There were such 17 cases from 2009 to 2019, according to the MSF.

Reporting by Aradhana Aravindan; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore

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