For NRIs, adoption dream no child’s play

AMRITA MADHUKALYA | Mon, 7 Aug 2017-07:45am , New Delhi , DNA
Australia had suspended adoption involving Indians since 2011

Vivek and his wife Ramya gave up a perfect life in Sydney earlier this year and relocated to India. The couple, who wanted to adopt a child, were told by officials that non-resident Indian couples are not allowed to adopt Indian children in Australia. In Chennai, where they are based now, Vivek is finding it hard to rebuild his career.

Australia, along with Canada, various Middle Eastern countries, and the US, do not permit NRI couples to adopt Indian children in their countries. It has now been learnt that Woman and Child Development minister Maneka Gandhi has now written to officials of the Australian High Commission to come up with a solution. Gandhi has also asked the officials to fast-track a few adoption cases, including Vivek and Ramya’s.

Gandhi had also issued a DO to Foreign Secretary Dr Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, but the Ministry of External Affairs, however, did not pursue the matter. Former WCD secretary Leena Nair had also written to the MEA.

Australia had suspended adoption involving Indians since 2011. “The officials told us that the reason for the suspension was an adoption racket involving Indian officials,” said Vivek, who says that while he’s finding it difficult to find a job here, his former employers in Australia want him to return.

Col Deepak Kumar, CEO of the Child Adoption Resource Authority (CARA), said that apart from Australia, countries from the Middle East, Canada and in some cases the USA bar NRIs from adopting. “The Authorised Adoption Foreign Agency (AAFA) in the receiving country is supposed to carry out home checks and issue no-objection certificates, and then carry out post-adoption checks. In Australia, the designated AAFA has refused to carry out these checks, without which, we cannot let the child go,” said Col Deepak.

He said that there have been cases where Indian couples have adopted babies in India and taken them under the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act. Australia, Canada and the USA are all signatories to the Hague Adoption Convention.

In Canada, Col Deepak says the country’s adoption authorities give parents no choice for adoption, whereas as per Indian laws, overseas parents are given a choice of two children. “The Canadian authorities want us to change the adoption laws in India to bring down screening choices to one, which is not possible. We have communicated to them that India will have no problem if they do not give NRI couples in Canada any screening choice, but not much has happened since,” he said.

In USA, inter-country adoptions are allowed only when one of the prospective parents is an overseas India citizen (OCI). Adoptions are not allowed when both the prospective parents are NRIs, said Col Deepak. As per US adoption laws, inter-country adoptions involving two NRIs are deemed as an Indian adoption case, and dependent visas are given only after the child has lived in the USA for over two years. Because of the tangle, Indian parents need to issue a tourist visa for their children every six months. CARA has written to officials in the American Embassy.

Middle Eastern countries under the rule of Islamic law do not allow adoption, and several countries are not signatories to the Hague Adoption Convention. In the absence of a process and of an AAFA, CARA has engaged social workers to carry out home-checks. Yet, several complaints come in routinely.

On the other hand, all the countries that bar adoptions to Indian couples carry out routine inter-country adoptions with India. In 2015-16, American couples adopted 222 Indian children, while in 2016-17, over 213 children were adopted. Canadians adopted 30 children from India in 2015-16, and 35 in 2016-17. In all, there were 430 inter-country adoptions in 2013-14, 374 in 2014-15, 666 in 2015-16, and 578 in 2016-17.

Vivek says that as of now, the only way out was to be a part of India’s adoption process, which can take anywhere from three months to a year, and raise the child for two years, and then move back to Australia. “The financial loss aside, my time, too, is running out,” said the 42-year-old.