Sarita Sundaram (36), a single woman and a young professional, thought her income and independence were enough to get an adoption she so desperately wanted.
Not quite, as she realised after six months of pleading with adoption agencies in the city.
“Most of them just refused to accept my application. I was stunned, though I qualify in every possible account — on income, resources, time,” she fumed.
A resident of Mulund, she is teaches Japanese language and helps facilitate trade between Japanese and Indian companies. “I have been filing tax returns for last 15 years, but the first three agencies I visited did not even entertain me,” she said.
However, agencies have a completely different logic. “The fact that she was too busy in her career and not married proves her selfishness. How can she be a good mother?” a social worker of an adoption agency located in a Mumbai suburb told Sarita.
When Hindustan Times asked the social worker to disclose her name for it to be printed in the article, she chickened out and refused to disclose her identity.
Chairperson of ACA Dr Lina Kashyap, who is also the deputy director of Tata Institute of Social Sciences and an expert in women and children’s issues, accepts that there are still biases against a single parent.
“In such cases, we would like a complaint to be lodged with us against the agency. The person concerned can always register with us directly,” she said.
Other agencies claimed that there was no bias but a practical problem.
“We have so many couples waiting for adoption and our priority is be to provide a child with the love and affection of both the parents. We do give adoptions to singles also,” said Nigma Mascarenhas of Family Service Centre, a south Mumbai-based adoption agency.
Sarita finally got herself registered with ACA and found that she was not alone. Already nine single women were waiting for their turn to adopt a child.
“I am open to older, dark-skinned children and I am not asking for a favour or an out-of-turn attention. I am ready to wait if there are people registered ahead of me,” she said.
“We generally follow certain rules like not to give a female child in adoption to a single man, but otherwise legally there is no bar for anyone to adopt,” added Kashyap.