In a state known for honour killings, a screwed sex ratio, and babies found abandoned, the relative increase in the number of baby adoptions in recent years offers some hope.
There have been a total of 75 in-country and 36 inter-country adoptions in the last four years from Shishu Greha in Sector 15, one of the three adoptive agencies operated by the Haryana State Council for Child Welfare where abandoned and destitute children are kept.
Interestingly, it is the girl child which is preferred. A total of 45 girls have been adopted in the last four years, against 30 boys in in-country adoptions.
But adoption officer Poonam Sood says, “It is not exactly about preference, but about availability. There are more baby girls in Shishu Greha, so their rate of adoption is comparatively better than that of males.”
At present, there are 41 children in Shishu Greha, comprising 24 girls and 17 boys in the age group of one month to seven years. While the average waiting time for adopting a one- to six-month-old boy can go up to three years, it is one and a half years for a baby girl in the same age group.
“Couples mostly prefer younger children, with age less than one year for in-country adoptions, while it is above five years for inter-country adoptions,” says project officer Sudhir Kant. Couples from across the country can apply for adoption.
One has to register online on the website of the Central Adoption Resource Authority and submit one’s preference. Accordingly, they are informed about the waiting time, which extends from several months to years, depending on the length of the queue and availability of children.
The process takes years, requiring several legal formalities. Any abandoned baby has to be made ‘legally free’ for adoption. An FIR is filed, and two months’ time is given for the biological parents to claim the child. If they do not come forward, an untraceable report is filed. The District Child Welfare Committee takes the call on whether the child is legally free for adoption.
In case, the child’s parents are identified, but they do not want to claim the child, then also the baby has to be properly relinquished and ‘surrendered’ in a legal manner.
Talking about the kind of couples interested in adoptions, Sood says, “There is no rural or urban divide here, and childless couples come from all places. We prefer that the child is adopted within the country, but if it does not get adopted in a long time, then we opt for inter-country adoptions, which are mostly in the age-group of five-seven years.”
There have been 10 male inter-country child adoptions and 26 female adoptions in the last four years.
On the rejection rate, Sood says, “We give enough freedom to couples to select a baby, but if a couple rejects a baby, a maximum of two other children are shown to them at a given time. Then they are rendered ineligible for the next three months.”
Couples also have to state the reasons for not adopting a child. The consent of the child is taken in case it is above seven years of age.
“Almost all children in our home get adopted, it is in less than one per cent cases that adoption does not occur, it is rare,” she says.
After a child is selected for adoption, it is handed over to the couple under a bond signed with the honorary general secretary of the Haryana State Council for Child Welfare. The child is considered to be legally adopted only after legal sanction from the district court.