India seeks to improve ‘shameful’ adoption record

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Government officials in India have proposed measures to improve the country’s “shameful” adoption record.

Maneka Gandhi, the country’s cabinet minister for women and children, said it was “inexcusable” that potential parents were often waiting three or four years to complete an adoption, and proposed “to overhaul the system so it takes not more than four months”.

Her plan includes an online system to track the progress of an adoption and the introduction of a new foster care program. Additionally, she hopes to limit the overcautious nature of adoption officials when approving prospective parents.

Ms Gandhi said that the attitude in India had previously been that “if a child got adopted before four years, there must have been something wrong” with the application, which was why such stringent rules were put in place.

A recent estimate by the country’s Central Adoption Resource Authority suggested that there were only 1,620 adoptions last year despite the 30 million orphans in India. The number of adoptions has fallen in the last four years. In 2010, around 5,700 adoptions took place. Foreign adoptions also fell from 628 to 175 during this time period.

The decline in adoptions led Ms Gandhi to characterise the country’s record as “shameful”. A number of factors could have contributed to such a low success rate, such as excessive regulations, numerous delays and an extremely cautious bureaucracy.

Many Indians adopt from within their extended families. When this occurs, it is rarely registered so it is impossible to know exactly how many occur. This creates what Vinita Bhargava, author of a book on the subject, described as “a data vacuum”.

Photo of Mumbai, India’s most populous city, by The Climate Group via Flickr

Stowe Family Law Web Team

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