As many as 11 states and union territories in India don’t have any children in the 0-2 age group who are legally free for adoption, according to figures available in the Child Adoption Resource Information and Guidance System (Carings). The age bracket is significant because ‘normal’ children in this age group are the most in demand among prospective adoptive parents (PAPs). “Most adoptive parents want to experience all the stages of a child’s life so they prefer to adopt children as young as possible. Also, they think that it will help them bond,” said Lorraine Campos, assistant director, Palna, one of Delhi’s oldest adoption agencies.
Data from Carings, the government’s central data base for adoptions across the country, shows that Arunachal Pradesh has 2,315 PAPs waiting in queue for children between 0-2, but no agency in the state has children available in that age group. In fact, only two children are available for adoption in the northeastern state. They are in the 8-10 year age group with 67 parents in waiting.
Jammu and Kashmir has no children available for adoption. But 2,297 parents are waiting in line for children in the 0-2 age group.
Nine other states and UTs follow a similar pattern of no children in the 0-2 age group but thousands of hopeful parents lining up.
While Daman Diu has 2,322 PAPs waiting, Chandigarh has 2,590, Himachal Pradesh 2,553 and Lakshwadeep 2,302. The northeastern states of Meghalaya, Mizoram and Sikkim together have 8,087 PAPs on the waiting list.
Pondicherry has a list of 2,404 PAPs and Uttarakhand 2,502.
In contrast, there are few takers for healthy, older children. In Maharashtra, for instance, 31 children are available for adoption in the 2-4 age group, but only seven PAPs are in queue; 24 children are available in the 4-6 year bracket with only four PAPs ready to take them on. However, in the 0-2 age group, where there are only 24 children available, there are 3,623 PAPs waiting.
“We counsel parents to consider older children and I have devised a set of ways to convince PAPs,” said Campos. “I tell them that if they take an older child they could be sure that the child is healthy and at that age there features would be developed enough for PAPs to know how the child will eventually look and maybe resemble them. Recently, a couple who had opted for a younger child went home with a 3.5 year old after I convinced them. So, change will come,” she said.
Explaining why so few children are available for adoption, Ian Anand Forber Pratt, director, Children’s Emergency Relief International, said most “orphans” living in childcare institutes (CCIs) are not “orphans”.
“These children have families and they continue to stay in orphanages because there is no effort to strengthen the family structure or reintegrate them with their families. If the CCI cannot send them back to their families then they should consider family based child care options, including adoption,” he said.