Enhance your UPSC exam preparation with our Current Affairs Dialog box, wherein we talk about crucial CSE topics. Today we will talk about a very important topic, Adopting a child in India and its relevance to the UPSC CSE syllabus.
For Prelims: Indian Polity and Governance - Constitution, Political System, Panchayati Raj, Public Policy, Rights Issues, etc.
For Mains: Government Policies and Interventions for Development in various sectors and Issues arising out of their Design and Implementation.
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Why in the News?
The Supreme Court has issued notice to the Centre on a petition filed by an NGO ‘The Temple of Healing’ seeking simplification of the process of adoption.
The process of adopting a child needs to be centred around a humane approach rather than too much focus on laws. Comment
‘Adoption’ in Legal Terms
Adoption is the formal process through which a child is permanently separated from his biological parents to become the lawful child of his adoptive parents.
The adopted child enjoys all rights, privileges and responsibilities attached to a biological child.
The Fundamental principles that govern adoption state that the interests of the child are most important, and preference is to be given to place the child in adoption with Indian citizens with “due regard to the principle of placement of the child in his socio-cultural environment, as far as possible”.
In its annual report 2020-21, the Ministry of Women and Child Development noted that 2.56 lakh children were living in 7,164 childcare institutions (CCIs) in the country.
According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), India has 2.96 crore orphaned or abandoned children.
Who can be adopted?
An orphan, abandoned, or surrendered child who has been declared legally free for adoption by the Child Welfare Committee (CWC), can be adopted.
This only happens under the provisions of the Juvenile Justice Act 2015.
A child of a relative — paternal uncle or aunt, a maternal uncle or aunt or paternal and maternal grandparents — can be adopted.
According to CARA, children of the spouse from an earlier marriage surrendered by the biological parent(s) can also be adopted by the stepparents.
What is the Formal Process of Adoption in India?
Child Adoption Resource Information and Guidance System (CARINGS), maintained by CARA functions as the nodal agency for adoption in India.
It collects databases of children and the registration of prospective parents on CARINGS.
Further, an orphaned or abandoned child is brought before the district child welfare committee and placed in a Child Care Institution.
If biological parents or family are not tracked, the child welfare committee has to deem the child legally free for adoption.
The district child protection unit then links them to an adoption agency and the child is registered with CARA.
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In India, two Legislations deal with the adoption of a child adoption rules under:
Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act (HAMA)
Under the Act, a Hindu parent or guardian can give a child in adoption to another Hindu parent.
For single adoptive parents, Section 11 of the Act states that if the adoption is by a male and the person to be adopted is a female, the adoptive father should be at least 21 years older than the child.
If the adoption is by a female and the person to be adopted is a male, the adoptive mother should be at least 21 years older.
Adoption Deed: The adoption process is completed with a registered adoption deed through court after compliance with all provisions under the Act.
Securing Court Permission: In special cases, the court’s permission has to be secured for adoption such as:
The parents of the child are dead or have abandoned the child.
In case the parentage of the child is not known or parents are declared mentally unwell.
The Act does not allow the adoption of an orphaned, abandoned or surrendered child who is in the care of any specialised adoption agency (SSA) or child care institution.
Inter-country adoptions don’t come under the purview of this Act.
Juvenile Justice (Care & Protection of Children) Act
The JJ Act allows the adoption of same-sex children — parents of a biological or adopted child can adopt another child of the same sex.
Prospective parents, living in India or abroad, can adopt children of their relatives.
Under the JJ Act, a single or divorced person can adopt, but a single male is not allowed to adopt a girl child.
The Specialised Adoption Agency (SAS) carries out a home study to ascertain if a person is eligible to adopt a child and the process concludes with an adoption order.
After adoption, SAS and the Authorised Foreign Adoption Agency (AFAA) have to undertake a follow-up of the adoptive family for two years.
Image Source: The Hindu
Why are Adoption Rates Low in India?
Staggering Gap: The Gap between prospective adoptive parents and children that are up for adoption has been staggering.
For Example, around 28,000 prospective parents have currently registered to adopt but only 2,200 have been declared legally free for adoption by the child welfare committee.
Low Adoption Pool: The children available for adoption, the most desired category — children between 0 and 2 years of age with no form of disability — are minuscule.
What is the Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA)?
The CARA, is a statutory body of the Ministry of Women and Child Development (MoWCD), set up in 1990.
It deals with the adoption of orphaned, abandoned, and surrendered children through its associated or recognised adoption agencies.
CARA functions as the nodal body for the adoption of Indian children and is mandated to monitor and regulate in-country adoptions.
It is also designated as the central authority to deal with inter-country adoptions as per the provisions of the Hague Convention on intercountry Adoption, 1993. The convention seeks to protect children and their families against the risks of illegal or immature operations abroad. India became a signatory to this Convention in 2003.