ADOPTION PRANKS DURING COVID-19
The second wave of Covid -19 has led to immense destruction in every individual’s life. India is struggling for its survival with the increase in the infection rate as well as the death rate. The social media is focusing and helping in supplying oxygen cylinders, hospital beds and other medication but there has been hardly any focus on sensitive issues in regards the misuse of orphans. There have been enormous incidents of children whose parents have passed due to COVID-19 and have no support system around them. This issue has been widely misused in the social media by illegally posting “calls for adoption and Aids for financial support” wanting to seek profit via such vulnerable orphaned children. Such posts and videos have also been forwarded and shared in different kinds of social media without any scrutiny. Such messages are a giving rise to easy ways of child trafficking and illegal adoption. After being aware of such rotation of messages, India has come up with a specialized number “1908” to take such messages into cognizance. The same has been now informed to Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights (DCPCR) in order to be cautious and watchful about spreading information about such sensitive issues, which can put a child’s life at risk. In order to take special care into this matter, the police authorities were also informed to help raise awareness about legal provisions of official’s adoption processes laid down by Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA).
Reputed Lawyer named Abha Singh also presented her view points on such a grave and sensitive topic by opining, “You cannot have people putting out such posts as they are violating the law of the land. It also violates the Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) guidelines. Such posts could be a racket and lead children into the hands of anti-social elements. The people who do this should be charged under the child protection acts like Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) and JJ Act 2020 (Juvenile Justice) because you are exposing children and playing with their lives. We have CARA guidelines to ensure that children do not fall prey to any trafficking racket.” This article specifically talks about the legal steps needed for adoption as per the provision under Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) to avoid such fake and Ponzi news. Many things are to be considered while an adoption of a child, this article examines and answers all such question necessary for adoption.
The adoption process in India is governed by multiple laws and adherence to the same is overseen by the Central Adoption Resource Authority. Adoption procedures are laid down from sections 9 to 13 of the CARA guidelines.
Step 1: Prospective adoptive parents need to get registered with an authorized agency. Recognised Indian Placement Agencies (RIPA) and Special Adoption Agency (SPA) are the agencies which are allowed to make such registrations in India. The prospective adoptive parents can visit the Adoption Coordination Agency in their area where the social worker will explain the process and take you through the formalities, paperwork and general preparation required for registration.
Step 2: A social worker for the registration agency will make a visit to the home of the prospective adoptive parent in order to do a home study. The agency might also need the parents to attend counselling sessions in order to understand the motivation, preparation, strengths and weaknesses of the prospective parents. As per CARA regulation, the home study needs to be completed within 3 months from the date of registration. The conclusion from the home study and counselling sessions is then reported to the honourable court.
Step 3: The agency shall intimate the interested couple when-ever there is a child ready for adoption. The agency will share medical reports, physical examination reports and other relevant information with the couple and also allow them to spend time with the child once they are comfortable with the details shared.
Step 4: Once the parents are comfortable with a child, they will have to sign a few documents pertaining to acceptance of the child.
Step 5: All necessary documents are submitted to a lawyer who prepares a petition to be presented to the court. Once the petition is ready, the adoptive parents will have to visit the court and sign the petition in front of the court officer.
Step 6: Once the petition is signed in the court, the adoptive parents can take the child to a pre-adoption foster care centre and understand the habits of the child from the nursing staff before taking the child home.
Step 7: The parents have to attend a court hearing along with the child. The hearing is held in a closed room with a judge. The judge may ask a few questions and will mention the amount which needs to be invested in the name of the child.
Step 8: Once the receipt of investment made is shown, the judge shall pass the adoption orders.
Step 9: Post completion of the adoption, the agency needs to submit follow up reports to the court on the child’s well-being. This may continue for 1-2 years.
This is the legal procedure which is being followed in India. One should not engaged in sharing, forwarding or posting illegal adoption methods as it can lead to serious offences. It is also to be noted that the prospective parents cannot ask for the adoption of a specific child, hence if you are only looking for new born baby adoption it may not completely be possible. Though, the age, gender, colour, health condition and religion of the child can be preferred. Additionally, it must be known by every individual that every adoption law provision is in conjunction with the religious personal laws. However, adoption can be made under Guardians and Wards Act, 1890, subject to courts approval. Indian citizens who are Hindus, Jains, Buddhists or Sikhs are allowed to adopt a child formally and the adoption is as per the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956 which was enacted as part of the Hindu code bills.
Adoption of abandoned, surrendered or abused children is governed by the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015.
Though, while the adoption laws are common across India, there are certain adoption guidelines and paperwork requirement that may differ for each State.
Adoption statistics in India:
As per government data, more female children have been adopted compared to the male children in the last 5 years. While 4475 male children have been adopted between 2013-14 and 2015-16, 6448 female children have been adopted in the same period. Number of adopted children with special needs stood at 334 in 2015-16.
The age-wise adoption data is being maintained by CARA only from August 2015. Between August 2015 and March 2016, a total of 2160 children were adopted out of which 1561 were in the 0-2 age group. This is 72% of all the adopted children. 94% of the adopted children were below the age of 6 years and only 6% of the adopted children were above the age of 6 years. In all the different age groups, more female children are adopted than male children.
As of March 2016, more than 7700 PAPs (Prospective Adoptive Parent) were registered with CARA. More than 2700 opted for only a girl child while more than 2800 opted only for a male child. More than 2100 opted for either a girl or a male child. However, the number of children available for adoption is only a little over 1600. Out of the 1600 children available for adoption, 770 are normal children while the rest are those with special needs. Though 1400 Children Homes (Government & NGO) and Specialized Adoption Agencies (SAAs) are functioning in the country as per government records, the number of available children is less than 1/4th the demand.
Most children are available for adoption in Maharashtra (350) followed by 132 in Telangana. More than 100 children are available for adoption in only two other states of Andhra Pradesh and Odisha. Most PAPs are registered in Maharashtra (1088) followed by 769 in West Bengal. More than 500 PAPs are registered in only three other states of Telangana, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. Whether the simplified and a transparent adoption process expands the adoption base in the coming years remains to be seen.
In India, most of the people who are adoptive parents belong to the upper middle class and upper class strata of society. It is also commonly seen that many single parents and same sex couples are opting for adoption.
Helpline for children who were left orphaned due to the Covid-19 Pandemic:
Five days ago, the DCPCR launched a helpline number to address the needs of those children who have been left orphaned during the Covid-19 pandemic. The helpline number 9311551393 will respond to calls for children who are facing any form of distress. The DCPCR chairperson said that till Monday morning the helpline had received 102 SOS calls. The SOS calls, he explained, are for a child whose parent (either one or both) have passed away, abandoned, and are in need of medical care, facing violence or in cases of pregnancy care. The helpline is operational 24X7 and manned by five people. If the Child Helpline number is busy, one can call on the NCPCR helpline number at 18001212830. There's also a District Child Protection Unit in every district of states in the country-- each of them has different numbers. These numbers can be found here. The DCPCU is responsible for identifying orphaned, abandoned children in the district. If this also doesn't work, one can also call the numbers listed on SARA- State Adoption Resource Authority, who will then reach out to DCPCU and the Child Welfare Committee.