Baby business? NGOs ask SC to suspend inter-country adoptions

By Danish Raza 4 May 2012

The Supreme Court has issued notice to the union government and the Central Adoption Resource Agency (CARA)- an autonomous body under the ambit of the Ministry of Women and Child Development- based on a writ petition demanding suspension of inter-country adoption in the absence of a law monitoring such adoptions.

Pune based NGOs ‘Sakhi’ and ‘Advait Foundation’ had moved the apex court saying that inter- country adoption has turned into a lucrative business, as adoption agencies are giving undue preference to prospective adoptive parents in foreign countries over Indian couples in need of children.

The petition has sought a detailed investigation into the procurement of children through extortion, blackmail, threats and through bribery of government officials. It also asks the court to look into what it is calling the inhuman condition of children in various agencies.

Foreign couples are getting preference over Indian couples? AFP

“At present there are 5000 Indian families on the waiting list for adopting a child, whereas 600- 800 children are annually sent abroad by way of inter- country adoption from India. It is significant to note that though we have a population of 110 crore, we send these children abroad keeping our families without babies to nurture,” said Anjali Pawar of Sakhi.

The petition also alleges that many “missing” children reach adoption agencies from where they are shipped out to foreign destinations. “The CBI should probe the link between missing children and children going in inter- country adoption”, they said.

At present there is no enactment governing inter- country adoptions in India. The adoption of children bill, introduced in the Rajya Sabha in 1972, aimed at making a uniform country wide law for adoption. But it was dropped due to strong opposition from the Muslim community.

The Guardians and Wards Act, 1980, provides for the appointment of guardians, but does not regulate the adoption of children by Indians or foreigners.

A foreigner wanting to adopt an Indian child makes an application before the district court asking it to appoint him/her the guardian of the child. With the court’s permission, he/she can then take the child to another country. Hindu NRIs take recourse in the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act which is a much less stringent legal process governing the adoption of children by a Hindu adult.

The NGOs have demanded enactment of further legislation so that there is a shift from the current scenario where adoptions are supervised by courts on a cases to cases basis.