HT Special: No takers at home, girls in Punjab orphanages find homes abroad
Even though abandoned girls far outnumber boys in orphanages, the Bathinda child protection office has 1,300 applications for baby boys in the age group of 0 to 2 years, mostly from Punjab; couples from other states and abroad lead in adopting baby girls.punjab Updated: Jul 21, 2017 09:57 IST
Lalita (not real name), all of seven, was sent to an orphanage after she was spotted begging near a Bathinda police station in August last year. This September, she will be moving to Italy, where a childless European couple will bring her up as their own daughter.
As volunteers in Sri Radha Krishna Dham in Faridkot prepare the girl’s adoption documents, six more girls and three boys play around. All the 10 are in various stages of adoption. Beaming innocent smiles at the visitors, they address them as “mummy” or “daddy”.
Like Lalita, another little girl is also all set to move to California with her parents, an NRI couple from Kerala. The identities of the two girls are not disclosed as per the rules of the Centre for Adoption Regulatory Authority (CARA), the nodal wing of the Union ministry of women and child welfare.
The orphanage’s manager, Subhash Chander, said 36 of the 42 orphans adopted so far from this centre are girls. Interestingly, most of the girl children have been adopted by parents outside the region. Twenty-two of the 36 girls have found new homes in the national capital region (NCR), Kerala and West Bengal.
“There are few takers for girls in Punjab and Haryana for obvious reasons,” says Chander. The region leads in abandoning girl children, who make up for the majority of inmates in various orphanages across the state.
PREFERENCE FOR BOYS
Childless parents in Punjab also prefer boys. That explains why five of the total six boys adopted from this orphanage, ever since its inception in 2007, have found parents from within Punjab.
Ravneet Kaur Sidhu, district child protection officer, Bathinda, says the locals are strongly biased in favour of boys. “Every day, I receive around eight to ten couples in my office, demanding a boy, and all my counseling, asking them to consider adopting a girl goes in vain.”
Ravneet has around 1,300 applications for baby boys in the age group of 0 to 2. Most of the applications for the adoption of baby girls come from outside the state or the country.
“Working couples in the NCR, mainly from the IT sector, look forward to baby daughters, which gives us hope,” says Sandeep Garg, a senior volunteer at Krishna Kunj.
As many as 15 NCR couples have adopted girls from this orphanage, and one has gone to the US with an NRI couple from Kerala, he said. Six others have been adopted by parents in Kerala and West Bengal.
At the recently notified adoption centre at Muktsar, three infant girls (all less than a month) have found parents in Pune, Mumbai, and Kerala. It was in August last year that this centre was brought under CARA for adoption. Within four months, it received three girl infants, who found parents soon afterwards.
NO BIAS AMONG COUPLES ABROAD
Ludhiana: A 2-year-old girl suffering from thalassemia at an orphanage in Talwandi Khurd village near Ludhiana has found a home in the US, where a couple, whose biological son is also suffering from the same disease, has adopted her. The child undergoes blood transfusion every month.
Two sisters and a brother brought up here have also found a home abroad with a childless couple in Italy deciding to adopt all three of them. They are among the nine children who are being adopted by parents in countries such as the US, Canada, Italy, France and Spain.
Kuldeep Singh Mann, patron of the centre run by Swami Ganganand Bhuriwale International Foundation at Dham Talwandi Kurd, says he is grateful that these foreigners don’t nurse any gender bias.
As many as 69 destitute children, 55 girls and 14 boys, have been adopted from this orphanage in the past two years. Mann hopes that with time, the bias will melt away, especially among the urban educated class. “We’ve had cases of a few bureaucrats and even two politicians from Punjab coming forward to adopt girls,” says Mann.
Punjab has nine adoption centres regulated by CARA. They include one each in Faridkot, Muktsar, Bathinda, Patiala and Amritsar. Ludhiana and Jalandhar have two orphanages each.