- India has 2.96 crore orphaned or abandoned children, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
- The Ministry of Women and Child Development reported in its annual report for 2020-21 that there were 2.56 lakh children living in 7,164 child care institutions (CCIs) across the country.
- 1.45 lakh children were reunited with their birth families after the Supreme Court ordered states to investigate the possibility of reuniting these children in care institutions with their birth families as a pandemic precaution.
Adoption Laws in India
(A) The Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956 (HAMA)
- A Hindu parent or guardian can place a child for adoption with another Hindu parent under the Act.
- A prospective parent can also adopt a male child if he has no other male children or grandchildren, or a female child if he has no other female children or grandchildren.
- If the adoptive mother is a woman and the person being adopted is a man, she must be at least 21 years old.
- After complying with all Act provisions, the adoption process is completed with a registered adoption deed through court.
(B) Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015
- The JJ Act also permits the adoption of same-sex children, allowing biological or adopted parents to adopt a child of the same gender.
- Prospective parents can adopt their relatives’ children whether they live in India or abroad. A single or divorced person can adopt under the JJ Act, but a single male cannot adopt a girl child.
- A home study is conducted by the Specialised Adoption Agency (SAS) to determine if a person is eligible to adopt a child, and the process ends with an adoption order.
- SAS and the Authorised Foreign Adoption Agency (AFAA) are required to follow up with the adoptive family for two years after the adoption.
Reasons for low adoption in India
- Parent-centrism: The current adoption approach is very parent-centred, but parents must make it child-centred.
- Age of child: Most Indian parents also want a child between the ages of zero and two, believing that this is when the parent-child bond is formed.
- Institutional issues: Because the ratio of abandoned children to children in institutionalised care is lopsided, there are not enough children available for adoption.
- Lineage discrimination: Most Indians have a distorted view of adoption because they want their genes, blood, and lineage to be passed down to their children.
- Red-tapism: Child adoption is also not so easy task after the Juvenile Justice Rules of 2016 and the Adoption Regulations of 2017 were launched.
(1) Mission Vatsalya:
- Mission Vatsalya shall include Child Protection Services and Child Welfare Services. It brings together services and structures to help children in distress.
(2) Mission POSHAN 2.0:
- Mission POSHAN 2.0 shall include Umbrella Integrated Child Development Scheme – Anganwadi Services, Poshan Abhiyan, Scheme for Adolescent Girls, and National Creche Scheme.
(3) Mission Shakti:
- Mission Shakti envisions a unified citizen-centric lifecycle support system for women that includes integrated care, safety, protection, rehabilitation, and empowerment to free women as they move through different stages of life.
- ‘Sambal’ and ‘Samarthya’ are two sub-schemes of Mission Shakti.
- The “Sambal” sub-scheme is for women’s safety and security, while the “Samarthya” sub-scheme is for women’s empowerment.
(4) PM CARES for Children Scheme:
- The government announced a special “PM CARES for Children” program for all children orphaned by Covid-19 who lost their parents or single parents or legal guardians or adoptive parents due to Covid-19.
- These children can also receive support through scholarships or education loans equivalent to tuition fees during their higher education, and the loan interest is paid by the PM CARES Fund.
- Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) is an autonomous and statutory body of the Ministry of Women and Child Development. It was set up in 1990.
- It functions as the nodal body for the adoption of Indian children and is mandated to monitor and regulate in-country and inter-country adoptions.
- CARA is designated as the Central Authority to deal with inter-country adoptions in accordance with the provisions of the 1993 Hague Convention on Inter-country Adoption, ratified India in 2003.
- It primarily deals with the adoption of orphaned, abandoned and surrendered children through its associated and recognized adoption agencies.