An Indian couple based in the UK has complained that they had to wait for several months to adopt a baby in Maharashtra. A letter dashed off by this couple says that all along they were clueless about the adoption process as officials remained incommunicado most of the time.
Another letter by a few US citizens to state women and child welfare minister Varsha Gaikwad and to the country’s central adoption agency has a similar complaint to make — they had to go put up with a great deal of emotional stress during the process
These two instances may quite sum up the state of functioning of Maharashtra state adoption agency, as regards putting up babies for adoption in foreign countries.
Maharashtra, once known for putting up the maximum number if children for international adoption, has placed only 35 children for inter-country adoption between April and September this year, according to data provided by Central Adoption Resource Authority (Cara). That is an annual average figure of 70.
Contrast this with data for other periods. Between April 2012 and March 2013, the annual average stood at 81. Between, January 2011 and March 2012 the state had put up 183 kids – 146 on an average – for adoption abroad.
In 2012, 4,694 children found homes in India while 308 were adopted by families abroad. Of 72 agencies in India authorised to put up babies for adoption abroad, Maharashtra has 21 such agencies.
Adoption agencies claim that ever since the Maharashtra State Resource Adoption Agency (Sara) was privatised in 2012, it has not been handing over dossiers of inter-country adoption cases to its Adoption Resource Committee for clearance.
As per procedure, Sara has to forward the dossier to this resource panel for a nod.
Sara has drawn flak from people from abroad waiting to adopt for “going slow” in processing cases, most of which pertain to kids with special needs.
In India, acceptance of children having an illness or a weak organ is rare. Such kids usually find homes abroad. Fed up with the long wait, families wanting to adopt Indian children have written to Cara, accusing Sara of laxity and insensitivity.
Recently, during the hearing of an adoption case, the Bombay high court ordered Sara to release pending cases. After this, Sara processed cases of 69 kids in two weeks. Adoption agencies claimed these cases were held up for a year.
Sources peg the average time to process an adoption application in other states to two months.
A senior CARA official confirmed having received several complaints from central authorities on adoption from countries like Spain, UK, US. “The Maharashtra SARA has delayed clearing international adoption cases on several occasions,” said the official.
Cara guidelines mandate that 80% of children should be given for local adoption and 20% can be put up for international adoption. These figures exclude special needs adoption cases.
Sunil Arora, vice-president of Federation of Adoption Agencies, an umbrella body of 19 state adoption agencies, said most Indian families want healthy babies. “So we refer babies with special needs for international adoption so that they too have a home.”
State adoption agencies claim that Sara officials ask for unnecessary documents which leads to delays. “They want to know how many Indian parents a child has been shown to before putting him/her up for international adoption and rejection slips ascertain that,” said the head of a Pune-based adoption agency.
“When Cara guidelines already say that 20% of children could be given away for international adoption, why is Sara creating a problem?” he said.
A senior Sara official refuted the allegations made by adoption agencies and adoptive parents.
“Most agencies do not complete their compulsory home study report on time. As a result, time for verification of such children goes up,” the official said.
“Currently, we do not have any pending cases. Whatever documents we are asking for is in strict accordance with Cara guidelines,” he added.
35 Number of kids put up for adoption abroad between April and September this year. An annual average of 70 children
183 The number of kids put for adoption abroad between January 2011 and March 2012. That’s an annual average of 146