Adoption is about to get easier and faster.
A simplified procedure, time-bound approvals and specialised centres in every district are among a series of steps planned to speed up the procedure, which drags for months and at times even years.Once the changes proposed by the women and child development ministry in the Juvenile Justice Act come into force, the process will be completed in a few months.
A child justice board — specialised court for children — and not the district magistrate will give the nod for adoption to go ahead. The longest delay is the time taken for the go-ahead from the district magistrate. Every district in the country has a justice board.
The plan is to take the adoption process to districts from state capitals. Each district will have one or more adoption institutions to ensure that the procedure is hassle-free for perspective parents, says a draft note sent by the women and child welfare ministry to the states.
The child welfare committee (CWC) will have to declare abandoned or surrendered children free for adoption within a given timeframe — a fortnight in case of an abandoned new-born and two months for others.
“These children should be with their adopted parents in two to three months,” said a senior government official on condition of anonymity.
Only the CWC, a district-level body responsible for the well-being of children in need of care, can declare a child legally free for adoption.
It will also help adoption by foreigners which has seen a 40% drop in five years (2006-10). In the same period, such adoptions from Africa grew manifold — more than doubled for Ethiopia, which has a single-window procedure.
“Approvals at the state and central levels are required before a child is put up for adoption abroad,” the official said.
To hasten the process, the Central Adoption Resource Authority (Cara), a government body that looks into inter-country adoptions, will accredit specialised agencies for putting up abandoned, surrendered or orphaned children for adoption. “Foreigners can apply with these agencies,” the official said.
To check misuse, a jail term of up to five years has been proposed for those guilty of selling or buying children for adoption. Any irregularity in the process will be punished by up to three years in jail and a fine of Rs.10,000.
The ministry has also proposed to provide statutory backing to CARA and has proposed a structure for running the organization solely responsible for inter-country adoption.