December 6, 2017 Updated: December 6, 2017 06:20 PM
A nurse who cared for a baby abandoned by his mother in Abu Dhabi is trying to adopt the boy who has since been moved to an orphanage in the Philippines.
Myann Abis, 37, is one of the many staff members at Universal Hospital who cared for a baby boy when his mother fled the building and boarded a flight out of the country, fearing the birth out of wedlock would lead to jail time.
Naming him Sebastian, the boy – who is now more than a year old – spent the first nine months of his life at the hospital after being born prematurely.
“All the hospital staff - doctors and nurses - grew attached to Sebastian,” said Dr Shabeer Nellikode, the hospital’s founder and managing director.
Sebastian was born on August 11 last year and was rushed to the neonatal intensive care unit.
“His mother spent a month at the hospital,” said Ms Abis who was present at the delivery. When pressed for a marriage license, which is needed to issue a birth certificate in the UAE, the mother fled leaving the baby behind. She stopped answering the hospitals' calls and soon switched off her phone.
“When our PRO checked, we found out that she had left the country,” said Ms Abis.
Staff later learned that the woman had a husband in the Philippines but their marriage license was not authenticated. Her passport showed she had not left the UAE in a few years and her husband had never entered the UAE.
“We assumed from the documents that she was married in the Philippines before she came to the UAE and then had an affair here and became pregnant with Sebastian," said Ms Abis.
The hospital allocated a room that had a swing, a bed, sofa, toys and a full-time nurse to look after the child while they continued their efforts to track down the mother.
They sought the help of the Philippines embassy to issue Sebastian passport as he had been left without legal documentation because he had no birth certificate.
After eight months of negotiation, the embassy issued the boy a passport but still needed legal clearance to travel outside the country.
In the first week of August, Sebastian was sent to the Philippines in the hopes that his mother would claim him.
Handing him over to the embassy official at the airport, Ms Abis said she felt as though she was handing her heart over.
“I miss him so much. I know I didn’t give birth to him, but he is my son,” she said.
Sebastian at nine months old in Universal Hospital
“Sebastian is a blessing. We have never seen a baby like him. He is always happy and smiling and laughing.
“He didn’t start speaking yet. Just a few sounds but he was already starting to stand up alone and walked with support."
Ms Abis said she would spend every free hour she had with him, about five hours a day. “I would go into his room between shifts and we all would take turns looking after him”, but the other nurses say he was most attached to Ms Abis.
His biological mother has said she has no interest in the baby who is now at an orphanage. Ms Abis has contacted the orphanage with the intention to adopt him. She is single and has no children of her own.
“I want him and willing to do anything to have him back. I’ve already told my family and we are all waiting for him to come back home,” she said.
The orphanage told Ms Abis that she can only adopt Sebastian when they are absolutely sure that his mother will not come to claim him.
It has been almost four months since Sebastian was sent to the Philippines.