The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Red tape binds baby fate
- Adoption legalities in way of home for abandoned girl

She could have had a happy home and loving parents within 24 hours of being abandoned on the streets and subsequently rescued. But she won't.

The seven-day-old baby girl found on Mayo Road on Monday afternoon remained confined to a cot at SSKM Hospital and trapped in uncertainty on Tuesday because of the legal hurdles preventing prompt adoption of the abandoned.

A number of couples have directly contacted the authorities of SSKM Hospital, expressing their desire to adopt the infant. But the elaborate legal procedure has forced the authorities to turn a deaf ear to the pleas and keep the baby girl in the neo-natology ward of the hospital.

SSKM medical superintendent-cum-vice-principal Santanu Tripathi said on Tuesday: 'Ideally, I wouldn't have liked her to remain in hospital. But after checking with the human rights commission and a few NGOs, we were briefed about the legal procedure.

'We need to intimate the judicial magistrate about couples wanting to adopt the baby. Till a couple is considered eligible by a court of law, the baby has to remain with us.'

The baby girl, wrapped in a white towel, was spotted by passers-by on the pavement in front of the West Bengal Volleyball Association tent on Mayo Road around 1 pm on Monday.

They formed a protective ring around the infant and alerted Lalbazar. As the news was relayed to Maidan police station, officers arrived and the baby was taken to SSKM Hospital.

After being declared fit by a panel of doctors, she has now been kept under supervision in the hospital's neo-natology ward.

Tripathi went on to explain why he would rather that the baby find a home in a hurry: 'A hospital is not the desirable environment for a hale and hearty child of her age, and I would not have liked to keep her here under normal circumstances.'

Though Tripathi has been inundated with calls from people inquiring about the procedure for adopting the baby, only one couple has turned up to meet him till now.

'There were at least four or five couples who wanted to know how to adopt the baby and a few other inquiries, too. I have asked all of them to submit a written prayer for adoption, which will be passed on to the judiciary. A decision on the foster parents can only be taken in a court of law,' said Tripathi.

The hospital authorities can, meanwhile, only act as 'mediator'. No one is being allowed to visit the baby as a safety-first measure.

The hospital, where the baby now is, may have been flooded by calls, but Maidan police station, under whose jurisdiction she was found, did not register a single query till late on Tuesday.

'This is contrary to our expectations, as such an incident should have sparked a lot of interest,' observed an officer at the police station.

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