New adoption rules: NRIs to be treated on par with Indians
Five years after they submitted documents for adopting a child in India, Devi and Joseph will finally get to see their six-year-old ‘daughter’ when the non-resident Indian couple settled in Dallas in the United States comes to Delhi next month to take her home.
It has been a long wait filled with home studies, delays and court procedures. “The adoption agency in Delhi has been regularly sending us pictures of Siara, but we feel we have missed out a good part of her childhood,” said Joseph, 43, who hails from Bangalore and works as software analyst in the US. “At one point, we had decided to adopt a child from China or Ethiopia, where the delay is much less, but my wife was insistent our child should at least look like us,” said Joseph, speaking over the phone. Indian expatriates hoping to adopt a child from their home country may soon have to submit to a much less gruelling experience than Devi and Joseph.
NRI couples could be treated on a par with their resident Indian counterparts following changes being made to adoption rules by the Ministry of Women and Child Welfare. As a result, NRI couples could have equal opportunities for adopting a child in India. This will spell a major change from the existing rules, under which the first preference is given to India-based couples.
Maneka Gandhi, whose ministry is working towards finetuning the Juvenile Justice (JJ) Act with an entire chapter on adoption for the first time, has already written to adoption agencies in states, child welfare committee heads and judges not to delay the processing of adoption applications.
A few years ago adoption agencies were asked to stick to a ratio of 80:20, with only a fifth of the eligible children for adoption abroad, in a move introduced to curb overseas child trafficking in the garb of adoption. This led to a fall in overseas adoptions from 628 in 2010-11 to 430 in 2013-2014.
“What the NRIs get is often the `rejects’ of the Indian parents. NRIs insist on having fair-skinned, healthy children less than one year of age but such children are to be first picked by couples here,” said a senior official at Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA), the body that handles and monitors adoptions in India. The official, who did not wish to be identified, added, “The NRIs, even after waiting for many months, are left to choose from children with medical issues, which is why they choose to go to other countries or give up on the process.”
In the past ten years, over 8,000 NRI couples have applied for Indian children but only a few have been shortlisted. “We screen the NRI couples many times to keep the number very small because we know due to the existing rules we don’t have many children to list for adoption. We will expand the list once the new rules are notified,” the official said.
This should change as the company’s restructuring paves the way for growth.