Dip in adoption points to illegality, trafficking: House panel

Concerned over the declining number of children for adoption in the country, a Parliamentary panel has expressed apprehension that this may point to an illegal child adoption market and trafficking.

In its 118th Report on Review of Guardianship and Adoption Laws, submitted to Parliament in the recently concluded Monsoon Session, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on personnel, public grievances, law and justice has noted “the paradoxical situation where on one hand there are a large number of parents willing to adopt a child, (and) on the other, there are not many children available for adoption”.

The committee, chaired by BJP Rajya Sabha member Sushil Kumar Modi, noted that according to adoption statistics of Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA), the number of children adopted within the country declined from 5,693 in 2010 to 3142 in 2020-21. The number of children taken in inter-country adoption decreased from 628 in 2010 to 417 in 2020-21.

This, the committee reported, “is a cause of grave concern’’.

“The committee expresses serious concern about decline in the number of children coming to adoption agencies over the years,” the report highlighted. “This decline, by and large, points to trafficking or a thriving illegal child adoption market. The committee is of the view that there is a need to increase surveillance, especially on unregistered child care institutions and adoption agencies/hospitals with a past record of trafficking.”

The report noted that as per information provided by CARA, 26,734 prospective adoptive parents were registered with CARA as on December 16, 2021, and were waiting for referral for in-country adoption. Another 1,205 prospective adoptive parents awaited inter-country adoption as of that day, the report observed.

As per information furnished by the Women and Child Development (WCD) Ministry, the report noted, the average time taken for prospective adoptive parents to get a referral for children in the age group of 0-4 years is approximately two years.

“The committee takes note of the paradoxical situation where on one hand there are a large number of parents willing to adopt a child, on the other, there are not many children available for adoption, all this while the 2020 World Orphan Report estimates the number of orphans in India at 31 million,” the report stated.

“Also, as per information furnished by the Ministry of Women and Child Development, as per Census 2011 there are 55,258 child beggars in the age group of 0 to 19 years in the country,’’ it added.

According to UNICEF, almost 10,000 children become orphans every day. There are about 140 million orphans in the world.

In the given situation, the committee recommended that “a true picture of the number of children who are orphaned/abandoned” be ascertained through a district-level survey. This data should be updated regularly, it suggested.

“There is a need to simplify the procedure further, besides bringing down the time required for placing a child in adoption to less than six months. The committee is of the view that a longer wait period often forces parents willing to adopt a child to resort to illegal adoption,” the report mentioned.

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