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Friday, May 01, 2009

Illogical ideas to fix inter-country adoption abuses of India

Recently in an article, child rights activists called for a ban on inter-country adoption because inter-country adoption being one of the causes of child trafficking. I agree with their assessment of the problem but not the suggested solution.

To me, a suggestion like this (closing inter-country adoptions from India) sounds like saying demolishing a house for it is being broken in. Common sense should suggest that we evaluate the problem thoroughly and come up with effective solutions.

Looking at the entire cycle of adoption, it is a foregone conclusion that the problem lies in the procurement of children and not the adoptive families (whether in-country or inter-country). If anyone calls one self to be a child rights activist and asks for a ban on inter-country adoption has anything but child’s best interests in mind.

Here are my suggestions:

Strengthen CWC’s: A decentralized statutory body has been created by the act of parliament with first class magistrate powers under Juvenile and Justice Act (JJ Act) called “Child Welfare Committee (CWC)”. It is supposed to deal with every kind of child procurement in to the adoption stream.

As genuine as CWC may sound, it is riddled with problems. Beginning with not many districts having functioning CWC’s to sitting CWC members themselves are adoption agency functionaries. Rights activists must work with the government to strengthen the CWC’s. Members of CWC are government appointed and they must be held accountable for their actions.

Strengthen Shishu Greh Scheme: Shishu Greh (in Sanskrit it means ‘Children’s Home’) is a scheme promoted by the government of India to exclusively promote domestic adoptions by giving grant in aid to deserving adoption agencies. They are not to charge any monies from the adoptive families.

This is an excellent scheme but unfortunately not many Shishu Greh’s are there in India to meet the demand. There are states that are known to be active in the field of adoption (for example the state of Tamilnadu) have several inter-country adoption agencies but not a single Shishu Greh home. This suggests the priorities.

Promote health insurance scheme: Well-intended inter-country adoptive families are not reluctant to adopt special needs children. Apart from their generous heart, they are open to such an offer because they know they can care for the child with their health insurance.

India has a dynamic and vibrant health insurance industry. We must provide portable health insurance worth of five lakh rupees to every child in the adoption stream for the first six years of its life. This will encourage the adoptive families in India at least to consider correctable special needs such as clubfeet and harelip if not major medical conditions.

Strive for payment parity: Government set reimbursement for In-country and Inter-country adoption is skewed in favor of inter-country adoptions. In-country adoption’s set maximum reimbursement is Rs. 25,200/- while for inter-country adoption it is US $3500/- (Rs. 1,57, 500/-). This is an unfair environment against adoptive families in India.

Activists must strive to work with the government to adjust this disparity where the playing field is leveled.

Unless and until effective measures are incorporated in the best interests of children, adoption scandals are likely to continue to take place but asking for inter-country adoption ban indicates devoid of logic.

2 comments:

Lin said...

As always, well articulated article.

I was wondering if you were familiar with the mechanics of being recognised as a Shishu Greh org in Tamilnadu?

Ruby said...

Lyn, first and foremost one should operate a children's home for three years and then they have to obtain a certification from the government called 'Fit Institution' which makes the children's home eligible to apply for Shishur Greh home licensing. Obviously no new individual that is sincerely interested can do it just like and I can understand why the government has done it that way. Unfortunately those that are in the business wield so much political and other kind of influences that new people are always snubbed down. One has to be persistent to make things happen.