By Anjo Bagaoisan
STA. ROSA, LAGUNA— He’s now out of the hospital, but the most recent baby patient of the Sta. Rosa Community Hospital’s emergency room is doing well even without his biological parents.
The doctor and nurses on duty described the child they initially named “Baby Boy X” as “well-born”—healthy and born full-term at 3.3 kilograms and 55 centimeters.
It’s a miracle for them, considering the baby was found inside a plastic bag at a shallow creek in the dark of night.
While on their nightly tricycle rounds of Centro de San Lorenzo, a massive local subdivision, volunteer patrollers Romel, Jesse, and Arjay heard a baby’s cries coming from the creek nearly an hour before midnight on Monday.
The creek was often a hiding spot for thieves and stolen items, they said. They approached the creek with their flashlights.
The three saw a small foot extending from the inside of a transparent plastic bag in the middle of the sluggish waterway. The plastic was similar to those used to pack in fresh meat in supermarkets.
“I mistook it at first for a ‘tiyanak’,” Romel said, referring to the mythical Filipino monster which takes the form of a baby.
It was unlike anything the young men in their mid-20’s had seen in their couple of years as part of the community brigade.
But when they realized it was an actual baby, they jumped onto the water to get it and rushed the baby to the privately owned Sta. Rosa Medical Center within 10 minutes.
The baby was still drenched in its placenta and had on its umbilical cord, evidence that he was newly born
After the staff at the medical center cleaned him up and removed the cord, the baby was moved to the public Community Hospital since he would be under the government‘s custody.
While at the ER, he was fed every two hours with breast milk the hospital regularly collects from the mothers in the OB ward.
Staff had to give him antibiotics for a urinary tract infection he could have gotten from his mother, as well as to thwart any other infection he may have contracted from the creek.
The baby captured many hearts there, including hospital workers who expressed interest in adopting him.
“They wanted to adopt because a baby is considered a blessing,” said resident Dr. Michelle De Castro. She said she could not help but feel pity for what happened to him.
“I was irritated on the part of the mother since she created this but could not own up to it. There are many who want to become mothers but can’t.”
Sta. Rosa police are prowling local health center records to find out who the baby’s parents are. They said the parents could face criminal charges but still called on them to come out and take responsibility for the baby.
But for the city social welfare and development office, even if the mother presents herself, she would not immediately get custody of the child.
The baby was moved to the city health office since he could not stay for long inside the community hospital ER because of the risk to his health.
“The mother has to be assessed if she has the means and capability to take care of the child. She would have to undergo tests and interviews,” said Glory Belle Agnabo, the local social welfare officer in charge of adoptions.
Same goes for others wanting to adopt the child.
“The baby cannot just be given to anyone expressing their intention to adopt him. We are mandated to refer the baby to a child caring agency. If no one claims the child as theirs in the next 3 months, the child will then be considered as abandoned. We would next need to declare him legally available for adoption,” Agnabo said.
The whole process could take up to 6 months, she said. Prospective parents cannot also choose the child they adopt.
The child caring agency the baby ends up in will look after him during that period. He won’t have a legal name until the family that adopts him gives him one and his birth certificate is finally filed.
For now, to distinguish the child from other foundlings, the social workers decided to call him Baby Lorenzo, after the place where he was found.