New Delhi: “Why go for adoption when the surrogacy option is available?," a parliamentary standing committee has posed the question in a report released on Thursday.
Criticising the lengthy and troublesome adoption process in India, the panel also questioned the government on how adoption could be the answer to growing infertility in India.
The panel pointed out that the waiting time for adoption in India is one to three years and highlighted a Central Adoption Resource Agency (CARA) study of March, 2016, that only 1,600 odd children were available for adoption while 7,700 applications from prospective parents for adoption had been received. Of the 1,600 children available for adoption, more than half were with special needs.
“The committee is unable to comprehend as to how the adoption route would be an answer to infertility which is growing in India. The committee also observes that adoption is a benevolent choice available to the community at large and the government cannot force adoption in lieu of surrogacy," the report stated. “Surrogacy and adoption have to be an equal choice and in the name of adoption, the government cannot take away the reproductive rights of couples to have a biologically related child through surrogacy," it said.
However, the Committee took note of the view of the Department of Health Research that surrogacy is a privilege and should be resorted to in exceptional circumstances only and that adoption should be the first preference for family formation.
A recent study on surrogacy by the Centre for Social Research (CSR), an NGO working for women’s welfare, revealed that even doctors in India are divided on the issue of whether adoption should be promoted or infertile couples should be allowed to go for surrogacy. However, most IVF doctors recommend surrogacy with stringent guidelines.
“In the past, couples unable to conceive were expected to turn to adoption to achieve their parenthood dreams. Nowadays there are many options for infertile couples, as well as singles and homosexuals who want their biological children out of any dispute. With the advent of technology the urge of parenthood leads them to seek alternative solutions including Artificial Reproductive Technology (ART), In-Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) and Intra Uterine Injections (IUI)," said Dr Ranjana Kumari, Director of the Centre for Social Research.
“The government needs to pool in extra efforts to promote adoption as act of adoption in not just having a baby but it is also contributes to societal development. We don’t see any government campaign to promote adoption as we see for family planning," said Dr Kumari.
While the debate over adoption vis-a-vis surrogacy has heated up in recent times, many child rights experts believe that both the ideas cannot be compared. “Surrogacy is not an alternative to adoption and adoption is not an alternative to surrogacy. These two are different things. Those who want to go for their own biological child should be allowed to pursue surrogacy, while those who want to adopt a child and improve a life, an easy and hassle-free adoption process should be facilitated," said Shashank Shekhar, member, Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights (DCPCR).
“Adoption process will have to be simplified because a lengthy and irritating process is a deterrent for many parents," he said.