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Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Entire speech of CARA Chairman

It gives me great pleasure and pride to welcome all Delegates to the 2nd International Conference on Adoption, organized by CARA. I am very positive about the outcome of the conference, which is being organized after a span of four years. We have participation from our associated agencies and subject experts from different parts of the globe and certainly, the deliberations will be meaningful for further streamlining the programme in the country.

Now, it is a changed environment altogether. If you go by adoption statistics, it may not say so, but if you go by steps to streamline adoption scenario in the country and number of PAP’s approaching adoption agencies for domestic adoption, certainly, you will feel the difference. We have more parents in the queue to adopt and less children within the country. With recent legislation's addressing issues on child rights and rehabilitation of children in need of care and protection, we are in a better situation to address issues of safeguards for most vulnerable children. We have streamlined our adoption programme in the country to a large extent, but much remains to be accomplished.

In case of inter-country adoption, we need more transparency across adoption process, which has already been reiterated, by Honorable Minister and Secretary, Ministry of Women and Child Development during recent Annual Meet organized by CARA. Thus central authorities both in sending and receiving countries have to work together and implement various principles as envisaged under Hague Convention on Inter-country Adoption more stringently. The Convention provides for responsibilities and tasks to be shared between the country of origin and the receiving country, while respecting organizational diversities and national legislation. One of its basic premises is that adoption is not an individual affair, which can be left exclusively to the private agencies. Procedures for inter-country adoption should ultimately be the responsibility of the countries involved, which must guarantee that adoption corresponds to the child’s best interest and his or her fundamental rights.

We have gaps and challenges, which have to be addressed. We are in the process of finalizing our new Guidelines and upon its implementation, we shall have more adoptable children in the adoption loop, more transparency across adoption process and more importantly, such children shall have adequate safeguards. While Honorable Minister has assured that adoption services to be revamped both in qualitative and quantitative terms, I seek your full cooperation in this regard

With over 8 years of experience as an autonomous body, we have understood that for expansion of programmes in non-programmes states and to simultaneously revamp programmes in states where there is already a formal adoption programme, we need paradigm shifts in our approach.

We need more adoptable children in the adoption loop and this is possible only through active involvement of states. Recently, CARA has collected some data about LAPA’s (Licensed Adoption Placement Agencies) with the help of State Governments and these agencies place children in domestic adoption. These agencies do not get grants from central Government. We are also trying to reach all LAPAs directly from CARA through our quarterly newsletter and hopefully, the adoption figures will increase.

We need active participation of States in terms arresting large number of illegal adoption through nursing homes/ hospitals, recognition of at least one adoption agency for reach district and setting up of CWC in each district for having single window system as far as source of such children is concerned. We need posting of data from State Governments to CARA on quarterly basis for preparing centralized data on such children.

While we are regularly briefed by our member agencies about delay in issuance of court orders, I would like to quote a recent judgment of Bombay High Court which is really inspiring for all of us. A Bench of Bombay High Court in a Family Court Appeal Case (# 34 o f2007) has reiterated in a case of inter-country adoption in the way the Supreme Court pronounced its landmark judgment in L.K. Pandey vs Union of India case in WP # 1171 of 1982 that the cases of most vulnerable category of children need to be expedited.

“__________________________ These petitions deal with lives of innocent, fragile, infant children. They are either destitute or abandoned by their parents. The children are required to be adopted and taken by the adoptive parents expeditiously after preliminary requirements are completed. Any delay on the part of any authority, including judicial officers, results in delayed bonding with their adoptive families and consequently their overall welfare is prejudicially affected. We may repeat that the court taking adoption petitions shall only consider the financial and cultural background of the adoptive parents and NOC of CARA when disposing off adoption petitions. Once a petition for adoption is brought before any court, it is the bounden duty of the court to take up on the date of hearing itself and to give the adoptive child a home unless the parents are found unfit for the role of being adoptive parents”.

In fact, we need an open policy. Prospective adoptive parents in India should be able to adopt from any part of the country where as in case of inter-country adoption, any foreign agency/ central authority can deal with any Indian agency without compromising the best interest of child.

Over the years, our inter-country adoption programmes has largely proved to be successful. Children placed in inter-country adoption do well and CARA receives regular progress reports about such children placed in inter-country adoption. Therefore, institutionalization must not be preferred if a child is able to find a loving and caring family. Over the years, we have observed that tie-ups between Indian agencies and foreign agencies have not served well; it has not been able to increase adoptions. We basically believe that adoption dossiers should be marked to such agencies where children are available. We also strongly believe that when a child is proposed for inter-country adoption, state government should be involved as the State is the guardian of such children but this should not delay the process.

As far as central authorities/ government departments are concerned, I have to say that we see professional fees differ from one agency to other even within a receiving country while it is expected that such fees should be uniform.

As you’ll aware, there has been a marked change in attitude among Indian couples aspiring to adopt a child. It is not just males, there is queue for girl children too. But old prejudices die hard. We have a long way to go. These children need us. I congratulate Non-Government organization in the filed, that have been working for the cause so far and I solicit all your cooperation to reorganize adoption system in the country. We have to encourage particularly sponsorship and family foster care where such efforts can bring real difference in family preservation and restoration efforts.

  1. Our vision is to expand the programme to every district in the country, maintain an online reporting system about all such children and enable retrieval of status of application of prospective adoptive parents with a long ID and password with the help of IT application at CARA. This tracking system will help the foreign agencies/ central authorities to pass important information to their prospective adopters.
  2. We desire that every adoption agency in the country should be connected to CARA. Thus we have initiated our first quarterly newsletter for circulation amongst all adoption agencies in the country. We shall improve the newsletter qualitatively with feedback from partner agencies and states.A
  3. As far as training and development activities are concerned, we have around 30 programs identified for the current year with the help of a training and development committee. We have greater need of professional social workers now. Once the Ministry strengthens CARA, we shall take up a certificate course on non-institutional care in partnership with reputed institutions in the country. In this regard, CARA has initiated a meeting with different school of social work in Mumbai.
  4. Finally, we require mandated reporting system from States to CARA more children in the adoption loop with the help of state level child protection units, quality standards and indicators for professionalzing child care system particularly in adoption agencies.

In my view, child is like a flower that grows in any season and on any soil. But as flowers cannot be left to themselves to grow without the help of a gardener, so does a child in the institution who can only grow with tender care of a loving and caring family. Let all of us work together with mutual trust and harmony in the best interest of children.

My I extend a very warm welcome to all of you once again and wish you a pleasant, unforgettable and successful participation.

(J.K. Mittal)

Chairman - CARA

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