Covid orphans: Child rights body issues a caution
Flooded by requests for adopting children who lost their parents to Covid-19, both online and offline, the Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights (DCPCR) has urged people not to fall for misinformation floating on social media, and advised interested families to follow the due legal process to initiate the adoption process.
Several children have lost their parents to the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic -- fourth wave, as per the Delhi government -- in the national capital. Earlier this week, DCPCR appealed to people on social media to call on their helpline number and report cases where children need essential supplies, have lost their parent(s), or are struggling to support themselves due to the illness. Following this, the child rights body said requests for adopting children orphaned amid the pandemic have also started pouring in.
Commission chairperson Anurag Kundu tweeted on Saturday evening: “Do not believe anyone who says he/she can give you the child for adoption. They are either lying or misleading or simply involved in illegal practices. Do reach out to your lawyer friends for advice.”
Kundu said he himself has received around 10 such requests in the last few days. “Besides, I see a lot of posts floating around about child adoption. People need to understand that they have to follow a legal process. Any adoption without it is illegal,” he said.
Explaining the standard process of adoption, Kundu said that when a child is orphaned, abandoned, surrendered or the parents are unable to support him/her, the child is produced -- by anyone -- before the concerned Child Welfare Committee (CWC). “The committee, in the interim period, sends the child to a children’s home, fit facility or Special Adoption Agency (if the child is below six years) and the Committee then passes order conducting a social investigation report by social worker, child welfare officer or child welfare police officer to check the background of the child and his family in a structured format. It’s called a social investigation report. Once it’s established that the parents are either unwilling to support, or simply unable to, or the child has turned orphaned and nobody is coming forward, the committee declares the child legally free for adoption, following the procedure laid down in JJ Act, 2015, and Model Rule, 2016, as well as adoption regulations. Then the CWC directs the appropriate authority in CCI (child care institution) and DCPO (district child protection officer) to complete medical examination report and registers the child on the Central Adoption Resource Authority as per procedures and upload all relevant documents required. No child can be adopted without following this process,” he said, adding that any other route is illegal and punishable under law.
Kundu also flagged some posts on Twitter by people claiming that few children who lost their parents to Covid-19 were adopted within hours of them seeking help on social media. He also tagged Delhi Police while flagging another such post inviting people to adopt two girls whose parents allegedly succumbed to the virus.
“We are encouraging people who are approaching us to follow the legal process. Besides, they should not take any decision in the heat of the moment. It’s a lifelong decision which needs to be taken after due consideration,” he added.
A Delhi police spokesperson decline to comment.