MAY 2 has officially been recognised as Baby Day.
“We hope it will not be commercialised. It should be about celebrating the life of a baby,” said Tollyjoy Corporation chief executive officer Tan Wee Keng.
Tan, a father of three children, age 15, 5 and 4 years, remembers his own experience.
“Suddenly, from a carefree person I had to take on a big responsibility. It was a major change. There were restrictions.”All it took to floor this CEO was a baby.
When each of his three children were born, he could not come round to holding them.
“I was afraid of hurting them with my clumsy hands. They looked so fragile.”
Luckily Tan has an understanding spouse.
“My wife Irene said: ‘Wee Keng, you don’t have to manage the children and the family. I will do it. In return you will have to look after me well.”
But not every baby is wanted. From 2005 to 2011, there were 517 cases of abandoned babies. Of this, 287 were found dead.
One NGO came up with a solution in 2010. If you are going to dump your baby, we’ll give you a safe place to do it.
In 2014, they signed a memorandum with the KPJ Group to provide baby hatches.
OrphanCare will arrange for these babies to be adopted.
OrphanCare Foundation chairman Tan Sri Faizah Mohd Tahir said more than 3,500 people have registered to adopt with them.
“The social stigma of having a child out of wedlock is a major contributor to unwanted babies,” said Faizah.
She said Malaysian society should be blamed.
“We had a case of a girl from a well-to-do family giving birth in her toilet at home.
“Her family could have checked her into a first-class ward. But no, she had to hide and bring the baby to us,” said Faizah.
Even if a baby makes it to the safe arms of the Welfare Department, its troubles are not over.
Having served as secretary-general of the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry until her retirement in 2009, Faizah is convinced an orphanage is no place for a child to grow up.
“It is proven that 60% of a child’s brain development happens in the first year of it’s life. This comes from parental attention – the smiles, kisses, touches. Do you get that in an institution? No!” said Faizah.
She recalled how a government-run orphanage only had one caretaker to look after 40 babies during feeding time.
“By 18 years old, they are asked to leave. You may hear of orphaned children growing up to be model citizens. But there are not many. 99.9% have low self-esteem and self confidence,” she said.
This is why she worries on Valentine’s Day.
“After the flowers and dinner, we have a case on our hands nine months later,” she said.
Faizah has no time for sweet talk. Having a baby requires both parents to be responsible.
“From the time a child is born till he reaches the age of 18, you are looking at no less than RM1mil.
“That is for having a moderate lifestyle,” said foundation trustee Datin Elya Adnan.
So, should we pull the brakes on Baby Day?
“Celebrate the child,” urged Tan.
He has no time for people who don’t like kids as well. He finds this a disturbing trend among the younger generation.
“I have a general statement for those who have this kind of thinking.
“They are really missing out on what life really is. They must have forgotten we were all children once,” he added.