Heart-wrenching story of abandoned baby triggers flood of adoption offers

Yusuf was abandoned on the doorsteps of a house in Kota Belud on Sunday with a note from his mother saying she is unable to care for him. (Facebook pic)

KOTA KINABALU: People are lining up in hope of adopting a baby boy ever since news of him being left by his mother on the doorsteps of a villager in Kota Belud, about 70km from here, broke on social media yesterday.

Yusuf, about four days old, was accompanied by a heart-wrenching note written by his mother, when found early last Sunday.

The note pleaded to one known only as Sumarti to give her son a better life as she was abjectly unable to do so.

In the letter, the mother, who did not identify herself, wrote that Yusuf was born on June 29 but had yet to feed on a single drop of milk as she was unable to breastfeed him.

She said she could not provide what’s important for the child – diapers, milk powder and vaccination shots – and begged for the letter’s recipient to do so instead.

The woman also conceded that she had failed as a mother and, as such, it was better for someone else to care for and love her child.

“Please take care of Yusuf as your own child … I sincerely surrender Yusuf to your family. I beg of you, please let Yusuf stay with you … I want someone to love Yusuf,” she wrote towards the end.

Photos of Yusuf and the letter were shared on Facebook and garnered hundreds of comments as well as over 2,500 shares. Many had wanted to take in the baby as their own.

Yusuf being cared for by staff of the Welfare Department. (Facebook pic.)

Kota Belud Welfare Department child protection officer Salbiah Jemon said she had received a barrage of calls from people inquiring if they could adopt Yusuf.

She said, however, that this was not possible at the moment as police were still investigating the case, adding that there were also legal issues involved.

“We cannot put him up for adoption yet because police are still tracing baby Yusuf’s birth mother. We are also waiting for his relatives to come forward.

“Yusuf is now under observation in the hospital pending further investigation by the police. He is on antibiotics but other than that, he is fine,” she told to FMT.

Kota Belud police chief Mohd Zaidi Abdullah said police had yet to gather new leads on the case, adding none of the baby’s next of kin had come forward so far.

“Anyone with information on the baby’s birth mother or father, or even his relatives, are welcomed to help us with the probe,” he said.

Salbiah said that under a Sabah ordinance, a person can adopt a child given to them by the parents, as the guardian, after three months of living together. The birth parents must also consent to that person caring for the child.

In child abandonment cases, however, she said the procedure was to place the child under the welfare department for two years before adoption was allowed.

She explained that this was to give time to relatives to possibly come and adopt the baby.

“A surrogate family will be selected by a panel from the department to look after the child for the two years before he can be adopted,” Salbiah said, adding that Sumarti was also one of those who applied to adopt Yusuf.

Sumarti and the other applicants will be vetted accordingly by the department to see who is fit to bring up the child, she said.

“We look at each case differently but our main aim is to see a child grow up in a loving home.

“If we have to, we will put a child in a welfare home but this is the last thing we want to do. We prefer Yusuf, and other abandoned children, to grow in a home with a family,” said Salbiah, who has 17 years of handling child abandonment cases.