250 prospective parents write to Irani seeking reforms in old adoption norms
The group of parents, who have reached out to the ministry through an advocacy group known as ‘Adoption Action Group’, include both resident and non-resident Indians
A group of 250 prospective adoptive parents (PaPs) and adoptive parents has written to Union women and child development minister Smriti Irani, seeking various reforms in the existing adoption norms in the country so that the process becomes faster and transparent.
While PaPs are those who have registered with the Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) — a statutory body under the ministry of women and child development (WCD) — and are yet to receive a child, the adoptive parents are those who have already received a child through the authority. The group of parents, who have reached out to the ministry through an advocacy group known as ‘Adoption Action Group’, include both resident and non-resident Indians.
In a letter dated October 7, the group highlighted several issues, including the delay in getting referrals (notification issued after CARA finds a suitable match for any PaP), lack of information and transparency from CARA, lack of clarity on the new processes or plans adopted during the pandemic, increased threat of illegal adoptions and trafficking of children orphaned by Covid-19, among others.
“These issues have a direct impact on the process and current waiting time for PaPs...From an already long wait of two and a half years, we are now into a three-year-long process and heading towards a waiting period of more than three years,” the group said in the letter.
“We need to acknowledge that the delay has a mental, financial and emotional impact on adoptive families. It has put the future of adoptive families at stake with debilitating concerns like the increasing age gap between parents & adoptees and the struggle to give children a normal and happy family life...,” it added.
According to the standard process of adoption in the country, when a child is orphaned or abandoned, he or she must be produced (by anyone) before a district child welfare committee (CWC). The committee, in the interim period, sends the child to a children’s home and then passes an order conducting a social investigation to check the background of the child and the family in a structured format. Once it’s established that the parents are either unwilling to support, or simply unable to, or the child has been orphaned and nobody is coming forward, the committee declares the child legally free for adoption. Then the CWC directs the appropriate authority in CCI (childcare institution) and DCPO (district child protection officer) to complete the medical examination report and register the child on CARA. Only after following this procedure, the child is referred to any PaP.
The group has put forward several demands, including acceleration of the referral process; a system to ensure that CWCs bring every possible child into the legal adoption pool; fixing delays in kids being declared adoptable by CWCs; and better coordination between the ministry, the states and CARA to plug the loopholes in the system to achieve the ultimate purpose of a centralised system, among others.
“The paperwork and process involved in bringing orphaned or abandoned children to the adoption pool is very slow and fragmented between different parties. The whole system of CARA was evolved to streamline things. But the system itself has become such a deterrent in getting children inside the pool that now parents are waiting on one side for three-four years and children are waiting on another side in childcare centres. So, we decided to write to the ministry to raise all these issues,” said a member of the the Adoption Action Group.
When contacted, a senior official in the WCD ministry said on condition of anonymity, “The CARA officials will soon hold a virtual meeting with this group of PaPs and discuss their concerns. The ministry is committed to addressing all the issues and make the adoption process easier, smoother and hassle-free.”