The Bombay high court (HC) on Monday extended the custody of a six-year-old Indian child to his foster mother, who is of American origin, despite reservations expressed by the Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA).
The court also granted CARA time till July 9 to clarify all its procedures related to the adoption of children by couples in cases where one of the partners is not an Indian by birth but has been granted the status of a person of Indian origin (PIO) by the central government.
The court is likely to deliver a detailed final order on the child’s foster care next month.
The HC passed the order after observing that the child, who was present in the courtroom on Monday, following a court order, “seemed happy and comfortable” with his foster mother, who wants to adopt him, but is facing hurdles in the process in view of absence of approvals from the authorities concerned.
A bench of justice VM Kanade and justice BP Colabawala observed that considering the welfare of the child, one must keep in mind that the “law should be followed in spirit and not in letter.”
The bench was hearing a petition filed by the American woman, who is married to an Indian and seeks to adopt the boy with special needs, who has been in her foster care for over a month. The woman, who has been living in Pune for seven years now, approached the HC after her application for adopting the child hit a hurdle with CARA.
CARA has demanded a no-objection certificate from the American Embassy in India. However, the woman claims that since she has been living in India since her marriage and now has a PIO card and an Indian pan card, it is not possible for her to get such a certificate from the US embassy or mission.
The director and staff members of the children’s home where the child used to live before the woman took him in as a foster child were also present in court on Monday. They submitted that the child shares a very close bond with the American woman.
The woman has submitted an affidavit before the HC stating that she has no intention of taking the child out of India without the permission of authorities.
* The boy was born to an unwed woman and was put in a Pune-based children’s home in 2012
* The biological mother relinquished her rights over the child and went for a re-marriage last year, after which the children’s home put out advertisements for his adoption
* The child was sent to three different Indian families that had initially shown interest towards adopting him. However, all three families subsequently returned the child to the home, saying he could not adjust with them
* The child has asthma and some cognitive-behavioural disorders
* He grew close to the American woman, who has been working as a volunteer at the home for years. However, when the woman sought to adopt the child, she hit a hurdle with CARA
* She has now sought that till her adoption application is settled, the child be allowed to remain in foster care with her.