Karishma, the baby born to a destitute woman on a busy street a month ago, is struggling for her life at a foster home. The good Samaritan who had saved Karishma is fighting the legal obstacles to adopt her. Legally, the adoption might not be as easy as it seems owing to the strong provisions of Juvenile Justice Act 2000, officials said.
Sources said Karishma is suffering from septicaemia (severe blood infection). "The girl was a premature baby and even after a month, she weighs just 700 grams. She has been continuously in and out of the hospital for all these days," said an official associated with the case.
HT had on Sunday highlighted how the destitute woman was left to die after giving birth on a busy street in Connaught Place on July 26. For almost a week, Ritu Arthur Fredrick, who runs a garment shop in the Shankar Market, looked after the baby.
After sending the body for cremation, the police asked Ritu and her family members, including her sister-in-law Bhavna, to hand over the baby to a foster home. "The child would be handed over to you after due procedure," the police had told the Fredricks. Almost a month after the day the woman died, the Fredricks are still waiting for Karishma.
Bhavna said, "Since Ritu is single, she asked us to adopt Karishma. I am a childless and hence my husband and I are very keen to adopt this girl."
The Fredricks visited the foster home — 'Udayan' — an adoption agency home run by NGO SOS near Gole Market. "We tried to convince the officials that we are ready to follow all procedures but to no avail," she said.
But adopting' a child is not as easy as this, said Raj Mangal Prasad, chairman of the Child Welfare Committee, Lajpat Nagar, who is handling this case.
After a child reaches a foster home, it is taken to the Child Welfare Committee of the district. A designated welfare officer conducts an inquiry to ascertain if there are any legal claimants and then only declares the child "legally free to be adopted". The procedure generally takes four months as it involves putting up advertisements in newspapers and calling for objections.
"The Fredrick couple would need to register themselves with the adoption agency. But even then, the law does not guarantee that this girl would be given to them for adoption. The agency maintains a roster of couples willing to adopt and the children are given out in that order," said Prasad.
Regarding the fact that Karishma's mother gave her to Ritu, Prasad said, "It would not be a legally acceptable situation. What if the girl's father turns up?"