Child adoption in the times of Covid-19

Context: The Covid pandemic has orphaned many children. As a consequence, there has been an increase in pleas on social media for adoption. However, such pleas go against the legal provisions.

Legal Background for Child Adoption in India:

  • Today, some people are offering infants for instant adoption by stating how the children have lost their parents to pandemic. However, such adoptions are illegal.
  • The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) law was enacted in 2015. It is a secular law, all persons are free to adopt children under this law. The Juvenile Justice Rules of 2016 and the Adoption Regulations of 2017 followed to create the Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA).
  • CARA is a statutory body for the regulation, monitoring and control of all intra-country and inter-country adoptions. CARA also grants a ‘no objection’ certificate for all inter-country adoptions, pursuant to India becoming a signatory to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoptions.
  • India is also a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
  • Thus, protections afforded to children became a legal mandate of all authorities and courts.
  • Persons professing the Hindu religion are also free to adopt under the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act of 1956. Rehabilitation of all orphaned, abandoned and surrendered children is regulated by the strict mandatory procedures of the Adoption Regulations.

What does the present process say?

  • The eligibility of prospective adoptive parents living in India, duly registered on the Child Adoption Resource Information and Guidance System (CARINGS), irrespective of marital status and religion, is adjudged by specialised adoption agencies preparing home study reports.
  • The specialised adoption agency then secures court orders approving the adoption. All non-resident persons approach authorised adoption agencies in their foreign country of residence for registration under CARINGS.
  • Their eligibility is adjudged by authorised foreign adoption agencies through home study reports.
  • CARA then issues a pre-adoption ‘no objection’ certificate for foster care, followed by a court adoption order. A final ‘no objection’ certificate from CARA or a conformity certificate under the adoption convention is mandatory for a passport and visa to leave India.

Way forward

  • CARA must conduct an outreach programme on social media, newspapers and TV, warning everyone not to entertain any illegal adoption offers under any circumstances whatsoever.
  • The National and State Commissions for Protection of Child Rights must step up their roles as vigilantes.
  • Social activists, NGOs and enlightened individuals must report all the incidents that come to their notice.
  • Respective State Legal Services Authorities have the infrastructure and machinery to stamp out such unlawful practices brought to their attention.
  • The media must publicise and shame all those involved in this disreputable occupation.
  • At the same time, the police authorities need to be extra vigilant in apprehending criminals. Tough times call for tough measures. This business of criminal trading of children must be checked with an iron hand.