Months after their adoption process was okayed at the level of adoption agencies, over a hundred children in Bihar are still waiting to be transferred to their foster homes, thanks to a legal technicality that should have already been addressed long ago.
Such children are unable to unite and settle down with their foster families, based in other states in the country or in other countries because the mandatory ‘legal clearance’ for their inter-state and inter-country adoption is pending in family courts in different districts.
Figures from State Adoption Resource Agency (SARA) revealed at least 102 inter-state adoptions, approved at the level of state adoption agencies, were pending with family courts in seven towns of Bihar, namely, Patna (41), Saharsa (18), Gaya (16), Bhagalpur (14), Darbhanga (12) and Saran (1).
Sources said government agencies are strict about securing legal approval of the adoption of such children before handing them over to their foster parents. This, they said, was deemed necessary for the adopted children to have property rights in their foster families.
Concerned about the inordinate delay in the conclusion of the adoption process, Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) secretary Deepak Kumar rushed to Patna on March 9 to assess the situation arising out of the delay.
Kumar confirmed he had met Patna high court acting chief justice Hemant Gupta with the request that causes of the delay be resolved at the earliest.
He ascribed the delay in part to ignorance about adoption guidelines and its rules and regulations. “Family courts need to be familiarised with the rules and guidelines”, he said, adding, “the Bihar Judicial Academy has been requested to host a two-day orientation workshop for those manning family courts in districts.”
Imamuddin Ahmad, director, social welfare, said CARA guidelines clearly mentioned each adoption process should be completed within two months of the home study process, with which the process of adoption of a child is initiated.
Instead, scores of adoptions, their processes completed at the level of adoption agencies, were awaiting legal approval in various districts, some of them for almost three to four years. “The trauma of couples who are desperate to have their adopted baby in their house defies imagination,” Ahmad said.
He said while family courts were taking their time to approve inter-state adoptions within India, many of the inter-country adoptions were being rejected.
“In Darbhanga, more than 10 such proposals were rejected at the level of family courts, after being approved by the adoption agencies. In Bhagalpur, more than half a dozen proposals were turned down. In all, more than 80 proposals have got rejected at different centres,” the official said.
He said family courts appeared to be acting under the belief that permitting children to move to another country through adoption was risky from the point of their well-being. “People fail to realise that for a child, home is always the best option and that adoption agencies can never substitute home. Younger the child, easier it is for him/her to adjust in a foreign country,” he added.
The welfare department official said children of Bihar, especially girls, were in good demand for adoption. “Out of total 100 children adopted till June 2016, 68 were girls,” he said. While a majority of them got home in other states, nearly two dozen girls went to foreign countries, he added.