ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Adopting a New Approach

The new adoption guidelines require more deliberation and fine-tuning.

Adoption in India has always been entangled in legal and social issues, further confounded by periodic reports of adoption rackets. The long pending need for simplification of procedures is cited as the reason behind the new guidelines set out by the Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) which came into effect from August this year. However, no sooner was this done, complaints began and the Bombay High Court is even hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) against the guidelines. The Federation of Adoption Agencies in Maharashtra has also filed an intervention application. The complaints from different quarters and the gist of the petitions before the court clearly indicate some haste and lack of widespread consultation in framing the guidelines. CARA, which is an autonomous body and the nodal agency under the Ministry of Women and Child Development (MWCD), has assured the court that it is willing to look into the grievances.

The irony is that the new (and completely) online process described as an improvement by CARA is raising hackles. In fact, one of the petitioners has said that it is an “online baby shopping system” referring to the fact that photographs of six children would be put up on the CARA website for the prospective adoptive parents (PAPs) to view along with the child’s study and medical examination reports. PAPs must first upload their own documents on the website and following a home study, the six photographs are put up in accordance with the choices mentioned. This is a looks-based approach that is also unfair to the countless PAPs who may not have access to online communication or be familiar with English. Even those with such access are not necessarily comfortable with undertaking such a significant and emotional step through an impersonal computer screen. However, the new guidelines ensure that the waiting list moves according to “seniority” in applications (thus assuring transparency). There is a centralised waiting list that allows application and matching from any place in the country (adoption rates have been very low in states with a negligible number of adoption agencies). And non-resident Indians will be on par with Indian parents and there will be strict monitoring of adoption agencies.

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