New Delhi: The government plans to relax rules governing inter-country adoptions to make it simpler for foreigners to provide new home to Indian children.
“We have set up a review committee to go through the guidelines so that the process of adoption in India is simplified,” Central Adoption Resource Agency (CARA) Chairman J. K. Mittal told PTI.
India’s adoption laws are very complicated and lengthy and often discourage foreigners from adopting children here, he said.
“There is a need to relax certain rules without hurting the interests of adopted children and that is why we have gone for a review committee,” Mittal said.
All inter-country adoptions are governed by a set of guidelines under which no direct adoption of an Indian child by foreigners is allowed in any court. All foreigners, including NRIs, wanting to adopt Indian children have to be sponsored by a licensed adoption agency in their own country that is also permitted to work in India.
Moreover, the paper work in such cases is handled in India only by a government recognised agency. The process includes detailed home study reports of prospective parents that are prepared in their own country and which include police verification, family and social background of applicants, income certificate and health status.
These documents also have to be attested by the Indian consulate, embassy or high commission in the applicant’s country.
In 2001, a total of 1,298 Indian children were adopted by foreigners, mainly from Europe, and taken to their respective countries. But the number dropped to 853 in 2006.
Are there chances any adopted Indian child could fall into the wrong hands? Mittal believes that chance is very remote.
Once a child is with a foreign family, follow up reports on progress are sent to India for two years on a half- yearly basis or until such time as the legal adoption is completed and citizenship is acquired by the child in the receiving country.
“So far, I have not come across any incident where foreign parents ill-treated our children. In fact, they keep them very well, giving them the best of education,” he said.
Besides, the sponsoring foreign agency is required to give an undertaking that in the event of any disruption in an adoption, it will take steps to re-locate the child with a suitable family and keep authorities in India and the Indian diplomatic mission informed about such matters.
Giving an example of a Spanish couple who took a blind girl for adoption, Mittal said many foreign couples prefer physically challenged children or girls, unlike their Indian counterparts who normally prefer boys.
In recent times, a growing number of Indian couples have come forward for adoption of children while setting aside social barriers, which is a “very positive” development, he noted.
As a result, the number of children adopted within the country through CARA has increased from 2,294 in 2004 to 2,450 in 2006.
There are now 65 recognised Indian placement agencies (RIPAs) enlisted with CARA for inter-country adoption placements. However, they are required to give priority to in-country adoption under the Supreme Court’s directives and government guidelines.
Only 12 states have RIPAs. Besides, there are 18 Adoption Coordination Agencies to promote in-country adoptions and to maintain a state-level list of children available for adoption and prospective parents willing to adopt.
There are also 80 Enlisted Foreign Adoption Agencies and 46 government departments from 24 countries that are recognised by CARA for processing applications from prospective adoptive parents abroad.
According to an estimate by UNICEF, there are nearly 26,000 orphaned children in India