New Adoption Rules

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    • There has been confusion over implementation of new adoption rules that require transfer of adoption petitions from courts to District Magistrates (DMs).

    Key Points

    • Amendments: 
      • The Parliament in July 2021 passed the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Amendment Bill, 2021.
      • Thereafter, amendments to the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Model Rules, 2016 were notified.
      • The Rule states that all the cases pertaining to adoption matters pending before the Court shall stand transferred to the District Magistrate from the date of commencement of these rules.
    • Purpose of the Bill: 
      • The intent of the amendment was to prevent court-related delays during adoptions because of a large number of pending cases. 
    • Creating ambiguity: 
      • In the absence of an adoption order parents can’t obtain birth certificates for adoptees which impacts school admissions. 
      • In one case adoptive parents had to admit their child to a hospital, but they can’t claim health insurance yet. 
      • In case of inter-country adoptions by foreigners or NRIs who live abroad, parents can’t take home a child without the court order and a passport.

    Image Courtesy: TH

     

    Related Issues

    • Delays: Parents, adoption agencies and activists are worried that this could lead to further delays in a long and arduous procedure.
    • Conflict: There is anomaly on the legislature front as adoption is being governed by the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act of 1956 which has a nodal ministry as the Ministry of Law and Justice while the aspects of Orphans are dealt with by the Ministry of Women and Child Development.
    • Lengthy process: Adoptions in India are infamous for being a lengthy process that takes up to three years to conclude, primarily because there are only 2,188 children available for adoption as per the latest figures while there are nearly 31,000 parents waiting to adopt a child.
    • Trafficking: The trafficking of such children is a challenge, especially in the eastern part of the country like Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal.
    • Emotional trauma: Children, who have faced crisis such as a loss of family members or separation from their parents due to death and desertion, have emotional trauma.
    • Limited Adoption: This means crores of children can’t become legally adaptable because the Government has not applied adequate resources towards getting the children registered.
    • Inter-country adoption: There are instances where none of the parents applied for his citizenship as a result he continued to be an Indian Citizen.
    • Inadequate Child Care:
      • Many child shelters do a good job of taking care of kids in need, but most of them will never assess the children under their care for adoption.
      • There is an inherent disadvantage in the adoption process as children are not made aware of the situation and are kept in the dark.

    Low Adoption Rates in India

    • There aren’t enough children available for adoption because the ratio of abandoned children to children in institutionalized care is lopsided. 
    • The District Child Protection Officer should be taking these children to a child care institution (CCI), and if their parents aren’t found, then they should be placed for adoption. 
    • District level officers are not doing their job seriously enough and government apathy is leading them to function without accountability
    • The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) data show there are 5,850 registered CCIs in India. But if unregistered ones are included in the basket, there are more than 8,000 such functioning institutions, and as per regulations, only registered CCIs can be linked to adoption agencies
      • Further, there are 2,32,937 children in all registered and unregistered CCIs. 
      • Children in the latter are vulnerable to poor care, physical and sexual abuse, and trafficking, thus all unregistered CCIs should be immediately shut down to reduce the risk of abuse. 
    • Most Indians have a skewed perception of adoption as they want “their genes, blood and lineage in their child. 
    • It is a stigma that hovers over adoption in India because it indicates infertility among the adopting couple. Indian culture places high value on ideas of fertility and family, disregarding scientific evidence.
    • Most Indian parents also want a child between zero- and two-years-old, because they believe the parent-child bond is created during infancy. 
    • Parents have high apprehensions when it comes to adopting children with special needs, and most such children are adopted by foreign couples. 

    Way Ahead

    • Courts should be allowed to close adoption cases that have already been brought before them, and only fresh petitions filed after September 1 should be sent to DMs to avoid any inconvenience. 
    • The government should also devote greater resources on setting up more CCIs along with a strategy to move millions of children off the streets into CCIs.
    • Behavioral mindset related to my child being of my blood, needs to change because children ultimately do not belong to parents.
    • Adoption rates will begin to increase both when there are enough children in the adoption pool, and also when more parents are willing to adopt.

    Laws Related to Child Adoption in India

    • To follow the legal route in getting a child to an adoptive family, any concerned citizen can call Childline at 1098 to report a child who has been abandoned or orphaned.
    • Citizens could follow the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956, or the Juvenile Justice (JJ) Act, 2015 to adopt or seek legal custody under the Guardianship and Wards Act of 1890.
    • Section 45 of the JJ Act provides for sponsorship and to send children for institutional care.
    • In July 2018, the JJ Act was amended to enable speedier adoption of children.
    • Prospective parents who wish to adopt will not be required to make several rounds to the courts to seek an adoption order as District Magistrates or District Collectors will be authorised to do so.
    • All Child-Care Institutions (CCIs) will have to get registered and linked to the Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA).

    Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA)

    • It has been set up as a statutory body of the Ministry of Women and Child Development.
    • It functions as a nodal body for the adoption of Indian children and is mandated to monitor and regulate in-country and inter-country adoption.
    • It deals with adoption of orphan, abandoned and surrendered children through its associated adoption agencies.
    • It is designated as the Central Authority to deal with inter-country adoptions in accordance with the provisions of the Hague Conventions on Inter-Country Adoptions, 1993, ratified by the Government of India in 2003.

    Source: TH