Indians are adopting more than ever and girls are the chosen ones but north India, where the sex ratio is heavily skewed in favour of boys, is bucking the trend.
In 2010, 5,693 children found homes in the country, up from 2,169 in 2008, latest government data shows. There has been a fall in adoptions by foreigners — 804 in 2008 and only 587 last year. “Adopting children from poorer nations in Africa is much easier. Hollywood star Angelina Jolie has been a great ambassador for the continent,” a government official said on condition of anonymity.
A Dutch woman, who had worked in Pune for years, wanted to adopt a child from India but couldn’t get past the legal hurdles.
She then opted for a Senegalese child.
“The guidelines are cumbersome. It takes two to three years to get court clearance,” said JS Mittal, chairperson of Central Adoption Resource Agency (Cara). “Our revised guidelines are yet to be cleared by the government.”
But that hasn't deterred young Indians in metros except those in Delhi. Mumbai saw the maximum adoptions, followed by Chennai, Kolkata, Bangalore and Hyderabad. The states of which these cities are capitals have the least skewed sex ratio in the country for children below 6.
States such as Delhi, Rajasthan, Haryana, Punjab and Gujarat, where there are more boys than girls, have been slow to take to adoption. The numbers for Mumbai and Pune together are the same as those for these five states put together.
People in the north are reluctant to adopt from outside the family and that, too, could be a factor for the low adoption rate, an official said.
What is heartening is that more girls than boys are finding parents in young couples in big cities. More than 55% couples have adopted girls—a trend which was catching up, a Cara official said.
Still, it’s a long road ahead. Only a fraction of children who end up in orphanages — those run by the government and private bodies — are fortunate enough to find a home.