UPSC SOCIOLOGY MAINS
Paper 2 – Section C – Social Changes in India (vi) Population Dynamics:
(a) Population size, growth, composition and distribution.
(b) Components of population growth: birth, death, migration.
(c) Population policy and family planning.
(d) Emerging issues: ageing, sex ratios, child and infant mortality, reproductive health.
Adoption rates in India have always been low, but in recent years they have fallen: The government’s Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) adoption statistics show that in 2010 there were 5,693 in-country adoptions, while in 2017-2018, there were only 3,276 in-country adoptions. These are disgraceful figures for a population as mammoth as India’s. And currently, there are approximately only 20,000 parents in line waiting to adopt, compared to the 27.5 million couples who are actively trying to conceive but are experiencing infertility, according to the Indian Society of Assisted Reproduction.
Adoptions in India are governed by two laws — the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956 (HAMA) and the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015. Both laws have their separate eligibility criteria for adoptive parents.
Those applying under the JJ Act have to register on CARA’s portal after which a specialised adoption agency carries out a home study report. After it finds the candidate eligible for adoption, a child declared legally free for adoption is referred to the applicant. Under HAMA, a “dattaka hom” ceremony or an adoption deed or a court order is sufficient to obtain irrevocable adoption rights. But there are no rules for monitoring adoptions and verifying sourcing of children and determining whether parents are fit to adopt.
In 2015, the then Minister for Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi centralised the entire adoption system by empowering CARA to maintain in various specialised adoption agencies, a registry of children, prospective adoptive parents as well as match them before adoption. This was aimed at checking rampant corruption and trafficking as child care institutions and NGOs could directly give children for adoption after obtaining a no-objection certificate from CARA. But the new system has failed in ensuring that more children in need of families are brought into its safety net.
THE RECENT CHANGES
The Parliament passed the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Amendment Bill, 2021 in order to amend the Juvenile Justice Act (JJ Act), 2015. The key changes include authorising District Magistrates and Additional District Magistrates to issue adoption orders under Section 61 of the JJ Act by striking out the word “court”. This was done “in order to ensure speedy disposal of cases and enhance accountability,” according to a government statement. The District Magistrates have also been empowered under the Act to inspect child care institutions as well as evaluate the functioning of district child protection units, child welfare committees, juvenile justice boards, specialised juvenile police units, child care institutions etc.
CENTRAL ADOPTION RESOURCE AUTHORITY (CARA)
Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) is a statutory body of the Ministry of Women & Child Development. It functions as the nodal body for adoption of Indian children and is mandated to monitor and regulate in-country and inter-country adoptions.
REASONS FOR LOW ADOPTION RATES IN INDIA
Firstly, there aren’t enough children available for adoption, because the ratio of abandoned or orphaned children (29.6 million) to children in institutionalised care (500,000) is highly unbalanced and even then many of the children in care are not eligible for adoption. This is further exacerbated by the never-ending social stigmas of caste, class and genetics, which continue to be a major deterrent.
Domestic adoptions conform to strict rules and very strict scrutiny is given to the eligibility of adoptive families.
The adoption process can take an extremely long time, which can cause severe strain and stress to some families. Average waiting times can vary from a few months to years in both national and international adoptions.
According to the Child Adoption Resource Information and Guidance System (CARINGS), for every 10 adoptive parents in India, only one child is available.
There is a need to adopt an inclusive approach that focuses on the needs of a child to create an environment of acceptance, growth, and well being, thus recognising children as equal stakeholders in the adoption process. The process of adoption needs to be simplified by taking a close relook at the various regulations guiding the procedure of adoption. The adoption ecosystem needs to transition from a parent-centric perspective to a child-centric approach.