Dhananjay Mahapatra / TNN / Updated: Nov 21, 2023, 07:41 IST
The Central Adoption Resource Authority has highlighted the challenges faced by over 35 million children awaiting adoption in Child Care Institutions. Cumbersome procedures and delays often result in children reaching the age of 6 when prospective adoptive parents are less interested. CARA also revealed that the majority of parents prefer to adopt children below 2 years. The annual number of adoptions has declined and also seen a lack of infrastructure and staff in the adoption process.
NEW DELHI: The Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) painted a gloomy picture for nearly 3.5 crore children awaiting adoption in various Child Care Institutions (CCIs) saying that the cumbersome procedures and resultant inordinate delay had led to a situation where many of the children available for adoption reach the age of 6 years when a majority of prospective adoptive parents ( PAPs) are no longer willing to embrace them.
Additional solicitor general Aishwarya Bhati, appearing for CARA with its director Jagannath Pati, informed a bench of CJI DY Chandrachud and Justices J B Pardiwala and Manoj Misra that nearly 70% of PAPs prefer to adopt children aged below two years. Only 10.3% of PAPs adopt children aged 2-4 years and 14.8% prefer to adopt children aged 4-6 years.
Providing comprehensive statistics about adoptions, Bhati said though crores of children are lodged in CCIs, only 2,146 were ‘legally free’ to be adopted. As on October 28, there were as many as 30,669 PAPs registered with CARA. As per data placed before the SC, the annual number of adoptions has declined from 4,362 in 2014-15 to 3,158 in 2022-23.
The process of identifying children legally available for adoption, involving State Adoption Resource Authorities (SARA), Special Adoption Agencies (SAA) and District Child Protection Organisations, is hindered by absence of infrastructure and staff. Of the 760 districts, there is no SAA in 370 of them, Bhati said. The bench directed the states and UTs to carry out bi-monthly exercises to identify children from CCIs and place them in CARA/SARA websites for adoption by PAPs. It said the first bi-monthly exercise would commence on December 7 and each state would compile data and submit it to CARA. It also directed the states to set up SAAs in every district by January 31 and ordered the nodal authority tasked for implementation of the mandate of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act to intimate compliance of the adoption-infrastructure building exercise to CARA.
When Piyush Saxena of ‘The Temple of Healing’, an NGO, said adoptions under Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act (HAMA) be also brought under CARA, Bhati said the agency certifies such adoptions under HAMA only when the PAPs intend to relocate the adopted child to a foreign country as is needed under Hague Convention on Adoption.