More than half of the children adopted in the last six years in India were girls, government data suggested. Maharashtra recorded the highest number of adoptions, followed by Karnataka and West Bengal. Of the 3,276 children adopted in the country in 2017-18, a total of 1,858 were girls, Child Adoption Resource Authority (CARA), the apex boy for adoptions in the country, said.
Out of 642 adoptions in Maharashtra, the number of girls adopted were 353, CARA said. Crediting the large number of adoption centres present in Maharashtra for this surge, CARA CEO Lieutenant Colonel Deepak Kumar said, “Maharashtra has the highest number of adoption agencies in the country at 60 while other states that are bigger have on an average 20 adoption agencies.”
According to data analysed for the past six years, 59.77 per cent of couples on an average adopted a girl and 40.23 per cent a boy. Even in states, where the male-female ratio is low, the couples opted to adopt a girl child. In Haryana, 31 girls and 19 boys were adopted while in Uttar Pradesh, 86 girls and 40 boys were adopted in 2016-17, according to the data.
Refuting reports that more girls were adopted because many more of them were given away for adoption, Kumar said that the parents are always given a choice to make their preference known. “It is not that availability of the girl child is higher but that parents are opting more for a girl child. We give them three choices – one can either opt for a girl or a boy or can give no preference…The percentage of those opting specifically for girls to boys would be 55:45,” he said.
While Kumar welcomed the rise in girl-child adoption, he also added that people in India are reluctant to adopt a child with special needs. “We in India don’t want to adopt a child with special needs while in foreign countries, people are open to it because they have a better healthcare facility and the government support is much higher,” he said. He also added that many people who came forward for adoption did not want a child who was older than 4 or 5 years of age. “So the probability of a child getting adopted almost diminishes to negligible domestically if the child crosses the age of 5-6 years. I have 20,000 parents registered but we have very few children of a younger age who are legally free for adoption,” he said.
There was also an increase in the number of in-country adoptions recorded. Of the 3,276 children adopted within India, 1,858 were girls and 1,418 boys, according to the data given in response to an RTI filed by PTI on the number of adoptions in every state since 2012. The inter-country adoption also saw an increase, with the number rising from 578 in 2016-17 to 651 in 2017-18. US, Italy, France and Spain topped the inter-country adoptions list, CARA added in a statement.
The data comes months after the Economic Survey estimated that there were 21 million ‘unwanted girls’ in the country. The Survey points out that the huge number of ‘unwanted girls’ (in the 0-25 age group in the population currently) is a direct outcome of the ‘son meta preference’ where parents do not stop having children after having a daughter.
(With inputs from PTI)