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Fewer children being adopted in India, Centre asks states to get their act together

Though there is no official data, surveys by NGOs say there are approximately 50,000 orphans in India. Around 14,000 applicants are in the queue to adopt but only 1,800 children are available.

india Updated: Oct 05, 2017 20:06 IST
Moushumi Das Gupta
Moushumi Das Gupta
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
adoption,adoption in India,women and child development
The Centre has asked state governments to ensure cribs are put outside nursing homes and orphanages.(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Fewer children are being adopted in the country, a concern raised by Union women and child development minister Maneka Gandhi who has asked states to implement in full the adoption guidelines to help more kids find a home.

Only 2,671 children were adopted within the country in 2016-17 (till March 14). Though there is no official data, surveys done by various NGOs say there are approximately 50,000 orphans in India.

“…This is of great concern as the adoption of children in need of care and protection under the JJ (juvenile justice) act, 2015, is not getting implemented in the right earnest,” Gandhi wrote to states on Wednesday.

According to ministry data, 14,000 applicants are in the queue to adopt but only 1,800 children are available.

The yawning gap is because several states have failed to set up child welfare committees (CWCs), whose nod is a must before a child is cleared for adoption.

A CWC has the same powers as a judicial magistrate first class. A child can be brought before the committee (or a member of the committee) by police, a public servant or a social worker. It ensures that the child is not stolen or forcibly being given up.

“….in many of the districts, either the CWC is not in place or the quorum of minimum number of three members is not complete,” says the letter, a copy of which is with Hindustan Times.

The Centre in 2015 came out with an exhaustive framework for adoptions to plug holes in the system as few people were going through the government to adopt.

The whole process has gone online and all orphanages have to register with Central Adoption Resource Authority (Cara), the country’s nodal body for adoptions.

But many orphanages fail to register children, preferring to operate on the sly and make money.

The minister had earlier this year written to health minister JP Nadda, seeking action against “unscrupulous” nursing homes, hospitals and their agents who failed to register children born to unwed mothers or parents not desiring a child, under the legal system of adoption.

These children, Gandhi said, were more often than not put into the illegal system of adoption.

The minister also expressed concern over legal delays, saying a large number of adoption cases were pending beyond the stipulated period of two months in family and district courts.

“I would request that review of the same must be taken by the state governments on monthly basis,” the minister said, suggesting that the help of juvenile justice committees of high courts be taken to dispose of the cases in time.

Courts are the final stop in the process, as they legalise the adoption. With courts’ saddled with a huge backlog, adoptions are not a priority and sometime legalising an adoption can take up to four years.

The minister has asked the state governments to ensure cribs were put outside nursing homes and orphanages for “safe abandonment” of children.

First Published: Oct 05, 2017 10:58 IST