Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi has directed officials in the ministry to change adoption guidelines so that people of Indian origin settled abroad can be treated as Indians rather than as foreigners.
As per existing rules, only 20 per cent of children in need of adoption can be given to foreign families. Maneka told officials at a review meeting on Monday that that with so many Indians settled abroad keen to adopt children, these rules need to be relaxed, especially when the concept of adoption is yet to catch on in India.
Sources in the ministry said Maneka also expressed her displeasure at the long waiting list of over 10,000 parents waiting to adopt, and the infrequent meetings of both the district child welfare committees and the Central Adoption Research Authority (CARA), the nodal body for adoptions.
“The minister said there is no reason to treat people of Indian origin settled abroad as foreigners. There are huge Indian populations in countries like Mauritius, Fiji, Malaysia etc who trace their origins to India over several generations… The minister feels that adoption guidelines should be changed appropriately so that these people are treated at par with Indians. It does not require any change of law,” said an official who attended the meeting. The plan is to include all those countries which are signatories to and have ratified the Hague Convention.
As per the current procedure, foreign couples — defined as couples residing abroad — who want to adopt Indian children have to go through the authorised foreign adoption agencies recognised by CARA. After due procedure and an evaluation of their homes, couples are given charge of children. Indian couples on the other hand can directly register themselves on the web portal CARINGS. The process is faster for Indian couples but the demand is higher among couples settled abroad.
“Under the plan that is currently under consideration, couples of Indian origin, even if they are residing abroad can directly register on our portal. These will be considered as domestic adoption. It will simplify the adoption procedure for them though the home study will still have to be done by an agency in that country,” explained a CARA official.
It was also decided that CARA would be given statutory status. The minister directed CARA to meet daily to clear the adoption backlog and asked the district committees to meet at least once a week.