It will take you much longer than nine months to become a parent, if you plan to adopt. At least in Mumbai, the city with the highest number of adoptions in India.
“We used to tell prospective parents to wait for at least the duration of a full-term pregnancy. Not anymore. There are simply no children available,” said Dr Lina Kashyap, chairperson of the Mumbai Adoption Coordinating Agency (ACA), the state wing of the Central Adoption Regulation Authority, under the Union ministry of women and child welfare.
In 2007, Mumbai registered 509 adoptions. This year, figures till October show a 43 per cent dip, with only 290 cases. As the Adoption Awareness Week, between November 14 and 21, came to an end, around 150 families are on the 2008 waiting list. It was 50 families in 2007.
The city has 14 adoption agencies, the most in any Indian city. One in six adoptions in the country (16 per cent of the total) was from Mumbai in 2007. But now all agencies have 15 to 25 parents on their waiting list for over a year. “This will the first in many years that adoption figures may not touch 400,” said Vandana Patil, coordinator, Mumbai ACA.
The reasons for a ‘shortage’ of children are unclear. “It seems that the number of single mothers, the biggest source of children for adoption, is dropping,” said Sunil Arora of Bal Asha.
The easy availability of emergency contraceptive pills could be one reason, said adoption agencies. “One also cannot discount illegal abortions and illegal adoptions,” said Kashyap.
The shortage has led to some positive changes. “People are accepting dark-skinned children despite the great Indian obsession for fairer skin,” said Kashyap. Harsha Seth of Bal Anand Trust, a Chembur-based adoption agency, revealed: “We have even been able to place three children of HIV+ parents. Till now, it has not been possible even when the kids, as in these cases, don’t have HIV and are healthy.”