Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Focus: Crisis For India's Orphans As Adoption Is Being Abandoned By Parents And Neglected By Government

Abandoned by their parents and now neglected by governments — there is no end to the suffering of over 50,000 orphans in India. 

The adoption rate within the country as well as those by foreign nationals in India has gone down by nearly 50 per cent in the last five years. 

What adds to the grim situation is the disparity between South Indian states and the rest of the country in terms of adoption of children. 

While South Indian states such as Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Kerala have still maintained a relatively high rate of adoption, states like Bihar, Jharkhand, Goa and Uttarakhand, along with the seven North-Eastern states, have recorded an abysmally low number of child adoption. 

As per Government records, 6,321 children were adopted in 2010. However, the number of adoptions came down to 4,354 in 2013. 

“Only 1,622 children were adopted during April-September in 2014,” stated an RTI reply by the Central Adoption Resource Agency (CARA), which is the nodal agency for in-country and inter-country adoption of children in India. 
RTI query 

Through the RTI queries, Delhi-based activist Narendra Sharma had sought information pertaining to children adopted within India and by the foreign nationals. 

The records show that 21,736 children were adopted in India in the last five years while 2,156 kids were adopted by the foreign nationals. 

Officials said the low rate of adoption in North-Eastern states was primarily due to absence of government-recognised adoption agencies. 

States like Bihar, Mizoram, Manipur, Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh do not have any registered agency due to which adoption of children has taken a hit in these states. 

“There is no registered adoption agency in Bihar. The government has not issued licence to the applicants since 2003. 

"Due to this, the agencies have not been able to facilitate adoption. Such is the government apathy that children adopted in Bihar in 2007-08 have not been issued certificate by the local courts,” said Rajesh Kumar, who runs Shanti Niketan Vidya Mandir, an adoption agency in Patna in Bihar. 

Experts said tedious adoption norms and slow judicial process further slowed down the adoption process. 

They said FIRs are registered in nearly 80 per cent of the cases and hence, adoption cannot be done without getting clearance from the local courts. 

“Since FIRs are registered in 80 per cent of cases, it is mandatory to obtain the consent of the local courts. 

"Also, 70 to 80 per cent of cases pertains to girl child which deters the adoption agencies from being pro-active,” said a social worker associated with ‘SOS Children Villages of India’, a registered adoption agency in Delhi. 

According to the RTI reply, Maharashtra has the highest rate of adoption despite the downward trend. 

While 1,606 children were adopted in Maharashtra in 2010, the figure came down to 1,212 in 2013. Similarly, Tamil Nadu was on the second spot with 693 adoptions in 2010. 

However, the figure came down to 216 in 2013. On the contrary, only four children were adopted in Meghalaya in the last five years. 
The Union Territory of Chandigarh, too, performed poor with just nine adoptions during 2010 to 2014. The hill state of Uttarakhand also recorded only 26 adoptions in five years. 

Among the foreign countries, the US has adopted 672 children from India in the last five years. Of these, 221 children were adopted in 2010 while the number reduced to 140 in 2013.

As adoption in India is going down drastically, the Central Government has decided to ease the existing norms to facilitate adoption by foreign nationals in India. 

The External Affairs Ministry has asked all its passport department offices to accept the date of birth of the child mentioned in the court order and not insist for a birth certificate. 

According to the MEA circular, passport authorities can now accept the date of birth recorded in court order, attached with a copy of an NOC (no-objection certificate) from the Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA), which is the nodal body for adoption of Indian children and monitors in-country and inter-country adoptions, to issue passport.

The MEA’s direction came after the Women and Child Development (WCD) ministry wrote to it, pointing out that some abandoned and orphan inter-country adopted children are facing difficulties in obtaining birth certificates, which is a mandatory requirement for obtaining a passport. 

“The matter has been examined in this ministry (MEA) and to mitigate the problems faced by such children, it has been decided that for the issuance of passports to abandoned, orphan inter-country children, passport authorities may either accept copy of birth certificate or the date of birth as recorded in the court order which should be accompanied by a copy of NOC of CARA bearing date of birth of the adopted child, as his birth proof,” the MEA circular said. 

The circular was issued in March this year. In the circular, the MEA also noted that despite various measures, some abandoned and orphan inter-country adopted children are facing difficulties in obtaining relevant documents necessary for obtaining passport. 

The Indian Government, as per the provisions of the Hague Convention, had asked all its passport department offices to expedite the process of issuing passports to inter-country adopted children. 

The MEA had also waived the requirement of police verification for such children in the past. 

Addressing the national meet on adoption organised by CARA recently, Union WCD Minister Maneka Gandhi had expressed concerns over the slow rate of adoptions. 

“The adoption rate of 800 to 1,000 per year in India, which has around 50,000 orphan children, is shameful,” she had noted, adding that she wants more and more children to be adopted per year failing which the worst performing adoption agencies will be shut down immediately.

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