While the country gears up to celebrate Adoption Awareness Week from November 14,the state of children with special needs waiting for adoption continues to be grim. An RTI query filed by The Indian Express with the Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) has revealed that while more and more couples are eager to adopt children,the situation is quite the opposite when it comes to children with special needs.
According to the reply to RTI,as of July 2012,CARA has 710 children with special needs waiting to be adopted. Between January and July 2012,128 such children were adopted by foreigners. When it comes to adoption of such kids by Indians,the number is negligible,especially when compared to the fact 5,964 normal children were adopted.
Incidentally,the special needs category is not just about children with physical or mental disabilities. It also includes overage children with delayed milestones,siblings who have to be adopted by same parents and those with ailments like asthma or are HIV positive.
We find that only foreigners come forward to adopt these children while Indian families stay away. Of the 5,000 applications currently with us from Indian families for adoption,none have given the option of being open to a special needs child too, said a senior CARA official.
The official said the main reason for more foreign families accepting children with special needs is the fact that inter-country adoptions are becoming more difficult and they stand a better chance of adoption if they opt for children with special needs. USA leads the foreign countries from where parents are adopting such children,followed by Spain and Italy.
Of the 710 children with special needs waiting to be adopted,Maharashtra has 229 of them,West Bengal 96,Delhi 90 and Tamil Nadu 59. According to Madhuri Abhyankar,executive director,Society of Friends of Sassoon Hospital (SOFOSH),a leading adoption agency in the country,there is a slight change in attitude as some Indian families have also come forward to adopt children with special needs.
But these are mainly say siblings or those who have been treated for conditions like wheezing or delayed milestones and are more or less like normal children but have been put under special needs category because of the CARA specifications, said Abhyankar who looks after Tara,a home for special children run by SOFOSH,in Pune.
At present there are about 35 children with special needs but no parents to adopt them. But SOFOSH has a waiting list of over a year for parents wanting to adopt normal children. At Tara,the eldest among the children with special needs is 16. We can keep them here till 18 after which we have to transfer them to other institutions that take in adults with special needs. Then on,it is more or less an institutionalised life for them for the rest of their days, she said.
Pune-based Bharati Dasgupta who tries to get children waiting for adoption and interested parents together under aegis of Catalysts for Social Change said the situation is unlikely to change. She said parents are already taking an unconventional decision to adopt and would want to add more complications to the process by trying adopt children with special needs. There needs to be a change in the mindset, she said.