Tamil Nadu

How the cradle baby scheme can help parents

The Cradle Baby Centre at the Dharmapuri Government Hospital has been dysfunctional for over a year.   | Photo Credit: N_Bashkaran

The Cradle Baby Scheme that provides for cradles at government hospitals and Primary Health Centres to receive unwanted newborns, and put them up for legal adoption, could prevent illegal sale of babies. But, the system needs to be tightened.

For instance, the Cradle Baby Centre at the Dharmapuri Government Hospital itself needs resuscitation. The centre has remained dysfunctional for close to a year, after its lone staff, who was paid Rs.100 a day, found a better job.

Babies, however, find their way to the cradle because the centre is located within the hospital, and the babies come from the hospital's maternity ward, says District Child Protection Officer M. Sivagandhi. “We get routine calls from the doctors and the nurses from the maternity ward, alerting us on parents who have a third girl child, or an unwed mother wanting to give away a baby.”

All the 24 private homes run by NGOs and the two government homes in the district have a cradle. But, babies are almost never dropped in them, says the director of a home.

This is where PHCs can play a crucial role.

All the PHCs have been directed to have cradles for unwanted babies. However, there are no references from the PHCs to the Child Welfare Committee, says Vincent Sunderaraj, Chairman, District Child Welfare Committee, Krishnagiri, the statutory body that certifies a child as free for adoption, and then puts it up for adoption. Every abandoned baby, or baby put in the cradle should be produced before the CWC which, in turn, puts the baby into the system.

PHC doctors and nurses may be blind to the possibility of an unwanted baby and the resultant need to create awareness on the cradle system and alert the CWC or the District Child Protection Officer. “The Kolli Hills illegal adoption racket is representative of this failure,” says Mr. Sunderaraj.

“In Krishnagiri, we get babies referred by Kaveripattinam PHC and Krishnagiri GH. No other PHC refers babies to us through the cradle system. This does not mean there are no unwanted babies delivered in the PHCs in the most backward areas,” says the CWC chairman. In a region where child marriage is the norm, preference for sons, multiple pregnancies, unwed pregnancies and poverty combine to play a role in adoption racket.

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Printable version | Nov 25, 2020 6:38:06 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/how-the-cradle-baby-scheme-can-help-parents/article27175121.ece

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