The drug-dependent mum who hit the headlines last week after going on the run with her newborn baby has been charged by police for having put him at risk.
But as the little boy has been returned to the temporary care of Faro Hospital, the woman’s mother has broken her silence, saying the family is ready to take the child in.
The 47-year-old grandmother, resident in Salvada, in the borough of Beja, has told national tabloid Correio da Manhã that she would like to offer a home not only to her newborn baby grandson, but to his elder brother – currently in care at Faro’s Refúgio Aboim Ascensão – and even her daughter.
The family’s only stipulation with regard to 28-year-old Alexandra Patrício is “no drug-taking”, she stressed.
“The family is very ashamed,” the woman who asked not to be identified told CM.
It had been under “huge pressure” and felt that Patrício had created an embarrassing “circus” by going on the run ostensibly to stop her newborn being put into the hands of social services.
The grandmother is understood to have travelled to the Algarve the minute she heard that her daughter had given herself up to the authorities last Thursday evening, but Patrício had not wanted to speak with her, she told CM.
The mother and daughter have apparently been estranged due to Patrício’s drug-taking, which began during her adolescence, the paper explained.
Whether or not the grandmother’s willingness to keep her grandchildren will result in them being entrusted into her care remains to be seen.
For now, neighbours describe her as a public sector worker who is “genuine and honest”.
But only last week, children’s champion Luís Villas-Boas was quoted as telling the paper that Patrício should “never have a child with her. Not this one or any other that she might give birth to. She is an irresponsible and criminal mother.
That is the correct word for someone who disappears with a baby that is only two hours old”.
The story also highlighted a failing in security at Faro hospital in that babies are not fitted with electronic tags which have become a legal stipulation since 2009.
Hospital director Pedro Nunes has agreed this stipulation may now be changed.
The alert for Patrício’s baby went out after he was snatched from an incubator where he was being treated for abstinence syndrome – a pathology common in the babies of drug-takers.
Concerns had been that the baby’s health was at risk. There was even talk that his life was in danger. But in the end, he was pronounced in good health, with “only jaundice and weight loss” when he was returned to hospital by his mother, six days after she had made her escape with her tiny son hidden in a rucksack.
By NATASHA DONN [email protected]