Despite the high percentage of childless couples in the country, the numbers of adoptions are on the decline. Surprisingly, this trend has persisted in spite of a large number of couples being tested infertile.
The latest data made by Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA), under the ministry of women and child development, shows domestic adoption levels declining by 16 % in 2013-2014 as compared to 2012-2013. While 4694 in-country adoptions were reported in 2012-2013, merely 3924 in-country adoptions were reported in 2012-2013.
Also, a pan-India survey by Indian Society for Assisted Reproduction (ISAR) shows that 46 % couples in the age group of 31-40 years are infertile and nearly 49 % have already undergone in-vitro fertilisation.
In a bid to counter the issue, the NDA government is revising existing guidelines for adoption of Indian children. A Press Information Bureau (PIB) press release dated July 22, 2014 says that the initiative has been taken to simplify the procedure and minimise delay in the process of adoption.
A senior official from CARA on the condition of anonymity said, “Adoptions in India are slowing down because the legal procedure takes a lot of time to free the children for adoption.”
When asked the present number of available children of adoption, the CARA official replied, “There are 400 agencies that help us in the adoption process, but their processing is very slow and they don’t update the database of available children regularly. It is tough to give an exact number but at present approximately 5000 children are available for adoption.” The official added, “Nearly 55 % of children open for adoption are either orphaned or abandoned, while the other 45 % are surrendered by their parents.”
However, the number of inter-country adoptions of Indian children, despite being much lower than the domestic adoptions, has shown a rise of 39.6 % in 2013-2014 as compared to their previous record (2012-2013).
Reasoning the higher acceptance of differently-abled children abroad for the rising number of international adoptions, a senior CARA official said, “Parents in India don’t want to adopt differently-abled children, but they are easily accepted and adopted internationally.” CARA data shows that 430 international adoptions were made in 2013-2014 as compared to 308 the previous year.
Criticising the government’s slow-paced approach towards upgrading of adoption guidelines and tightening trafficking and abuse of children sent abroad, Anjali Pawar from Sakhee – a child right’s NGO based in Maharashtra — said, “India lack clear guidelines for international adoptions of Indian children. There is a provision of follow up only after five years for an Indian child adopted abroad and the reports are written by the adopting parents rather than official agencies.”
As a matter of fact, CARA data also shows that more girls than boys are adopted abroad. While 58 girls were adopted as per the 2013 provisional report, 16 boys got new families. The outflow of children from India has traditionally been to the United States, Italy and Spain. Official data by CARA shows that that the adoption rate from India to US fell from 220 in 2011 to 111 in 2012. In 2013 (updated till June 2013) the number of Indian children adopted by US citizens was as low as 21.
US couples adopt children from abroad under the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Inter country Adoption (Hague Adoption Convention). It says that all adoptions between India and the United States must meet the requirements of the Convention and the US law implementing it. The prerequisite for such adoptions is that it is only allowed after the option of adoption within the country is fully exhausted. India is a signatory to the Convention.