The plan to fast-track adoption is a good one. But speed must not lead to weakened due diligence
The government has now prepared a proposal to delegate the power to give final approval for enabling adoption of a child to district magistrates. The law ministry is reviewing the changes and if there is consensus between the two ministries, the proposal will go to the Cabinet and an amendment will be made to the Juvenile Justice Act 2015.editorials Updated: Jan 10, 2018 10:54 IST
In 2015, the Union government revamped the Central Adoption Resource Agency (CARA) guidelines: It replaced direct communication between families and adoption agencies with an online system to ensure transparency and efficiency. Two years down the line, the women and child development ministry, the nodal agency for adoptions, has found that despite the digital push, inordinate delays in the process continue to be a nagging problem. In 2016-2017, only 2,671 children were adopted in India.
The queue of prospective parents is, however, long. According to the ministry, 14,000 applicants are in line to adopt, but only 1,800 children are available (there’s no accurate estimate of children available for adoption). One of the key reasons for the frustrating delay is the legal process that needs to be completed before a child is given to her adoptive parents. As things stand, only civil courts have the power to enable adoption. But they are so overburdened that adoption cases keep getting delayed.
To tackle this problem, the ministry has now prepared a proposal to delegate the power to give final approval for enabling adoption of a child to district magistrates. The law ministry is reviewing the changes and if there is consensus between the two ministries, the proposal will go to the Cabinet and an amendment will be made to the Juvenile Justice Act 2015.
The WCD ministry’s decision is a step in the right direction, but speed must not lead to weakened due diligence. The government also needs to focus on two other issues: First, come up with the correct number of children who can be adopted (there is no official record on the number of children at orphanages, but surveys by non-government organisations say there are approximately 50,000 orphans in the country), and second, as the Supreme Court said on January 4, the State must thoroughly review the management of orphanages, adoption process and facilities provided to these children in these homes.