‘Prospective parents’ complain of delay in adoption process, ministry says looking into it

The group, which includes NRIs, had written to Minister Smriti Irani on October 7. On October 21, some met officials of CARA — nodal agency that facilitates adoptions in India — seeking a faster adoption process.

A GROUP of over 300 “prospective parents” has complained to the Ministry of Women and Child Development and the Central Adoption Resource Agency (CARA) about “the increasing delay in the adoption process”.

Responding to their concerns, the ministry said on Friday that their “suggestions… have been noted and actionable points are being addressed.’’

The group, which includes NRIs, had written to Minister Smriti Irani on October 7. On October 21, some of them met officials of CARA — the nodal agency that facilitates adoptions in India — seeking a faster and more transparent adoption process.

The group had raised issues of delay and uncertainty of referrals (each prospective parent receives three referrals or profiles of children they match); lack of information and transparency from CARA; lack of clarity on the new processes post-pandemic; rising number of children in institutional care; increased
threat of illegal adoptions; and pressure to adopt under the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act rather than the Juvenile Justice Act.

“There are over 26,000 prospective parents who are waiting for referrals while the number of children legally free for adoption is very less. The children are immediately sent on referrals once they are declared legally free for adoption, provided their medical examination has been carried out to ascertain their health status,” the ministry told The Indian Express.

“The pandemic has adversely impacted every walk of life… CARA has taken several proactive measures… to alleviate and facilitate… the process of adoption,’’ it said.

“We expected delays because of the pandemic. But adoption processes have been slow. Earlier, CARA would send three referrals a week — now they send one… Some parents have been waiting for three-four years, whereas the waiting period should not be over 18 months… Most people want children in the age group of 0-2 years. But if the waiting period is three-four years, the children grow up by then,” said a prospective parent, Parul Agarwal.

According to government data for the period from 2015 to 2021, 18,415 children in the 0-2 years group; 1,782 in the 2-4 years group; 1,398 in the 4-6 years group; and 797 in the 6-8 years group were added to the legal adoption list. There are 486 specialised adoption agencies in India.

“The CARA system is very good – the laws and processes laid down are child friendly. But they need to iron out the process for the adoptive parent, which does not have a proper timeline. There are not enough children coming into the system, and yet abandonment is very high,” Smriti Gupta, of non-profit Where Are India’s Children.

Last year, just over 3,000 children in the 0-5 years age group were adopted.

A prospective parent living in Saudi Arabia said the process is worse for NRIs. “They tell us that we are treated at par with domestic adoptions, but this is not the case… We have been waiting for over three years. I have registered for a baby between 0-2 years. But the rule is that the cumulative age of both parents is taken into account – if that age crosses 90, then you cannot get a child under 2 years. This is unfair as the delay has taken place for no fault of mine. We also can’t leave the country till the process is over,” said the NRI, who did not want to be named.

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