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Less than 20,000 children adopted in four years

Data shows that there has been a gradual decline in the number of adoptions over the four years across the country. A shortage of babies and a maze of procedures has led to the low numbers. 

CHENNAI: The waiting list of parents wanting to adopt children is growing every year, but only 19,136 children were adopted and placed with families within the country between 2010 and 2013, as per the reply to an application filed under the Right to Information Act by TOI.

In its reply, the Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA), which deals with all the matters concerning adoption in India, said 1,866 children were adopted by families living abroad in the same period. Americans adopted the most children from the country (662) between 2010 and 2013, followed by Italy (377), Spain (149) and UAE (88).

In India, Maharashtra has registered the highest number of in-country adoptions with 4,397 in the last four years, followed by Tamil Nadu (1892), West Bengal (1,719), Andhra Pradesh (1,547) and Karnataka (1,477), the reply says. The states with the lowest numbers are the north-eastern states, Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh, which have placed less than 25 children in four years. In the middle of the pack are larger states like Bihar (374), Punjab (326), Madhya Pradesh (585), Uttar Pradesh (579) and Gujarat (563).

The data shows that there has been a gradual decline in the number of adoptions over the four years across the country. A shortage of babies and a maze of procedures has led to the low numbers. In Tamil Nadu alone, there are 850 pending applications but only 333 babies available for adoption.

Pune-based child rights activist Anjali Pawar said the high number of adoptions in Maharashtra is because of the proliferation of adoption agencies. "Adoption agencies have been functioning in Mumbai from the 1960s. This contributes to greater willingness to adopt babies as awareness is better," she said.

A senior official of CARA agreed and said, "Maharashtra has the highest number of adoption agencies in the country. The number of adoption agencies depends on licenses given by the respective state governments." He admitted that there are delays in the procedures. "There is a huge demand for children and we are unable to keep up. We are working to reduce the delays in the procedures for adoption."

Chennai-based psychologist Dr Mini Rao said the numbers reflect people's attitudes towards adoption. "Many families are hesitant to adopt because of caste, religion and colour. It is unfortunate that some couples are reluctant to adopt even if they know that their chances of having children are low," she said. They are willing to spend enormous amounts on medical treatments but do not look at adoption as an option.

A parent from Chennai who recently adopted his daughter, said: "We waited for more than two years for all the procedures to be completed. My wife and I would go to meet her occasionally but couldn't take her home because it took so long to get the paperwork processed."

Pawar said high demand, strict laws and delays in court procedures are the reasons for this. "The long procedures can act as a deterrent to prospective parents. The shortage of social workers in adoption agencies to go to the prospective parents' house and verify if they are fit to be parents also delays the process in several cases," she said.

CARA officials said more than 65% of the children adopted are girls. "More girls are available for adoption in agencies than boys. This is because many Indians consider girls a burden. On the other hand, many childless couples are keen on adopting girls as they are affectionate and caring," said a CARA official.

Social activist A Narayanan said Tamil Nadu' s cradle baby scheme is a model for the country. "Parents who don't want a girl child can leave them in the cradles in government offices rather than practice foeticide and infanticide. CARA will put them up for adoption," he said.

According to the Juvenile Justice Act, 2000, and guidelines issued by CARA, every person who is otherwise eligible, no matter what his/her religion is, can adopt an orphan child. However, this Act is applicable only to children who have been abandoned or abused and not to those who have been voluntarily put up for adoption.

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