When Aarti and Himesh Mehta (names changed) decided to adopt after eight long years of childlessness, they didn’t know the wait for a child would be longer. After a few adoption agencies gave them the disappointing news that it could take two years before a child would be available for them, they registered at a local agency where the waiting list of parents wasn’t as long.
That was May last year. But the Mehtas are yet to be shown a baby they can take home.
“The child will be our support; our reason to live. The wait is difficult,” said 36-year-old Himesh.
Theirs is not an unusual story.
Five years ago, adoption agencies in the city were having a hard time finding families for children. Now, it’s the other way round. There are almost 500 couples on the waiting lists of the 14 authorised adoption agencies but less than 150 children who are legally free for adoption.
As a result, it can take anywhere between six months to 1.5 years before you take a child home. Those who register at popular adoption agencies like Shradhanand Mahilashram, Matunga and Vatsalya Trust, Kanjur Marg, have to wait for at least two-three years.
"here’s no need to promote adoption in Mumbai anymore. So many parents are coming forward for adoption that we don’t have enough children,” said senior social worker Vandana Patil of Adoption Coordinating Agency.
It’s no surprise that Mumbai is now called the ‘Adoption Capital’. “There were 400 adoptions in Mumbai last year,” said Patil.
At Bal Asha Trust in Mahalaxmi, there were over 100 enquiries in the last six months.
“Media attention and education has made adoption much more popular. So many people call or come to the centre that we can’t handle all queries,” said administrator Sunil Arora.
And, it’s not just couples who have been unsuccessful in having biological children who want to adopt.
Over 25 per cent of those registered with agencies, want to adopt simply because they want to provide a home to a child, according to Patil.
Now every child finds a home. Those who are not adopted by Indians or non-resident Indian families, are readily accepted by foreigners.