Malaysia's first 'baby hatch' boy finds new home

7 July 2010
Malaysia's first 'baby hatch' boy finds new home

KUALA LUMPUR — A Malaysian baby boy, the first infant dropped off at a "baby hatch" centre to rescue unwanted newborns, has found a new home, reports said Wednesday.

The centre -- modelled on similar services in Germany, Japan and Pakistan -- was launched in May and is the first of its kind in Malaysia, which is grappling with the problem of rising numbers of abandoned infants.

The facility in suburban Kuala Lumpur allows mothers to leave their babies anonymously.

A small door opens to an incubator bed on which the child can be placed, and once the door is closed and the mother has left, an alarm alerts a staff member to the arrival.

The first baby received by the centre, on June 27, has been adopted by a couple selected from 80 eligible parents, OrphanCARE which runs the centre was quoted as saying in the New Straits Times newspaper.

"In keeping with the rights of both the biological and adoptive parents to confidentiality, no other information pertaining to the adoption and the baby will be released," the centre said.

The hatch has sparked debate in the Muslim-majority nation, with critics saying it will encourage premarital sex. Supporters of the centre say it gives desperate mothers an alternative to abandoning or killing their babies.

Official statistics show 407 babies were abandoned between 2005 and 2009 in Malaysia, a Southeast Asian nation with a population of 28 million people. This year a total of 24 cases were recorded as of April.

Media reports have highlighted cases of newborn babies abandoned in the streets or at rubbish dumps. In March, the body of baby boy who was left on the roadside was found by passers-by with his left hand bitten off by wild dogs.

Women, Family and Community Development Minister Shahrizat Abdul Jalil has attributed the rise in abandoned babies to unmarried couples not knowing where to seek help after having a child out of wedlock.