Petition seeks stay on new Central guidelines on adoption

Date: 2015-10-05

The guidelines were made applicable from August 1 this year.

TWO petitioners from Maharashtra have challenged in the Bombay High Court the Centre’s new guidelines on adoption. According to these guidelines, a prospective parent can “view” photographs of children and “reserve” one after going through the child’s details. The petitioners are a man seeking to adopt a baby and an unwed pregnant woman due for delivery next month who intends to put her child up for adoption. The petition has called the new set of guidelines an “online baby shopping system”.

The guidelines were made applicable from August 1 this year. One of the petitioners approached an agency in Ahmednagar seeking to adopt a child but was asked to approach the central agency — the Central Adoption Resource Agency (CARA) — through a centralised waiting list. When he enquired about the time period involved, he was told to peruse CARA’s website. To his disappointment, he found no time frame within which prospective parents would be matched with a child.

The other petitioner intended to put up her child for adoption through an agency of her choice. She read about the new CARA guidelines in newspapers and refused to agree with CARA deciding which agency her child would be placed with. She said the idea of displaying her child’s details on a centralised website is also not acceptable to her.

She is also aware that her details — name, age and address — are required to be uploaded on the centralised website. “This definitely infringes her right to privacy and she has a strong objection to it,” says the petition filed by lawyer Shirin Merchant.

The online selection procedure,” the petition says, “contemplates selecting a child merely on the basis of his or her appearance… A child may be rejected merely because his photograph is not appealing enough. To protect the fundamental right to life of a child, it is essential that nobody should have a right to reject a child merely on the basis of appearance.”

Guideline 10 on the CARA website reads: “After viewing the photographs, child study report and medical examination report of the child or children, the prospective adoptive parents may reserve one child within a period of forty eight hours for possible adoption and the rest of the children would be released through Child Adoption Resource Information and Guidance System for other prospective adoptive parents in the waiting list.” The petition will come up for hearing Monday.