MANILA, Philippines — The baby boy born on a flight from the Middle East to the Philippines and abandoned in an airplane trash bag will be put up for adoption if the mother is not found or declared unfit, a government official said Tuesday.
The baby, named George Francis after Gulf Air's flight code GF, was doing fine, watched closely by nurses and social workers while authorities searched for his mother.
Officials have identified a person who occupied a bloodstained seat on the plane but are still verifying if she is the boy's mother, Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman told The Associated Press.
"He is well. He takes a lot of milk, but he is being observed because there was a bump found on his head. But as far as the report from his checkup goes, his condition is good," she said.
The six pound, nine ounce (three kilogram) boy was discovered Sunday when a security officer on the tarmac spied something moving in one of the trash bags that were carried from the plane. He opened it, sifted through the rubbish and found the newborn wrapped with tissue paper and covered in blood.
The story evoked pity and outrage around the world. The infant – still attached to the placenta – was taken to an airport clinic, where doctors and nurses cleaned him, gave him a checkup, wrapped him in cloth and mittens and warmed him under a light bulb, airport doctor Maria Teresa Agores said.
Gulf Air spokeswoman Katherine Kaczynska told the AP that no one on the plane reported anything unusual during the flight. The Bahrain-based airline said the baby was discovered in an airplane toilet trash can, suggesting the mother gave birth in the bathroom during the flight.
Doctors who attended to the baby said he looked Filipino, fueling speculation in the local media that the boy's mother could be a domestic worker in the Middle East. About one in 10 Filipinos works abroad, many as maids and laborers in the Middle East, to escape crushing poverty and unemployment at home.
According to the law, it takes at least three months to declare a baby abandoned and start the adoption process. In this case, even if the mother is identified, she will have to be assessed to see if she is a suitable parent, Soliman said. What she did is "an indication of her inability to take care of the child," she said.
Soliman also said that although the baby looks Filipino, he may be given a Bahraini nationality if it is confirmed he was born on the Gulf Air aircraft. Children born during a flight are entitled to citizenship of a country where the plane is registered, she said.
There was no shortage of prospective parents for the little George Francis.
Soliman said at least 10 couples had contacted her office offering to adopt him.
"There are many. We're getting it from the e-mail, we're getting it from the website," she said of the adoption request.
Associated Press writers Jim Gomez and Hrvoje Hranjski in Manila and Adam Schreck in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, contributed to this report.