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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Less than meaningful solutions for disrupted adoptions

I had been waiting for January 9th, 2010 eagerly as that was the date set forth by the Bombay high court to hear about draft guidelines set for the disrupted inter-country adoptions. Now, it appears that the hearing had taken place and here is a newspaper article and I have mixture of feelings.

My first feeling was that the disadvantaged child’s life was commoditized. It was reported earlier that the draft guidelines doing the rounds around 5000 US dollars and there was resistance from some circles about this so now the figure is set for 500 dollars (approximately little over 20,000 rupees). Considering the healthcare costs in India, this would be woefully inadequate but the missed out point is this: If we feel pridefully that this child is an ‘Indian’ and requested her to be repatriated, then would it not be the state responsibility to pay for the same? How about India creating a corpus in the best interest of all its disadvantaged children?

Second feeling is that adoptive parents are unfairly punished. For an Indian child that’s been given for adoption under the guardianship law of India, it is the responsibility of the Recognized Indian Placement Agency (RIPA), Enlisted Foreign Adoption Agency (EFAA), and Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) along with the adoptive families to ensure that the adoption is finalized in a foreign country. In this reported case, child was asked to be repatriated only because the child’s adoption was not finalized and that means child is still an ‘Indian’ citizen. So who should be held responsible for this? Holding adoptive family alone responsible for it is unfair. RIPA, EFAA and CARA also ought to be held accountable in this case. Apart from that, understanding the intricacies of failure and finding solutions based on those finding would be meaningful.

Thirdly, it is proposed in the draft guidelines that inter-country adoptions must be done only under Hindu Adoption & Maintenance Act (HAMA) or Juvenile & Justice Act (JJ Act) which enables the child’s adoption to be completed in India before the child leave the country. Either of the acts will give the family ‘parental rights & responsibilities’ equal to a biological child. That means that the child assumes the citizenship of a foreign country and the child cannot be repatriated even in the cases of disruption. If so, where is the necessity of these 500 dollars that we are talking about in the second paragraph?

Last but not the least, I think we have two cases of repatriation at the most to refer and we are trying to find a solution where it places undue stress on all the prospective inter-country adoptive families. Solutions that we find must be meaningful, pragmatic and above all, must meet the standard of “best interest of the child” and I am afraid these are not.

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