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Friday, May 11, 2012

Is pre-adoption counselling a solution to curb corruption in adoption?

Recently when an adoption agency was exposed in the Indian media for receiving money in guise of donation, adoptive parents (who made the payment) claimed innocence of not knowing the rules and stated that they were in a hurry to complete the process so they didn't mind paying when they were asked to do so.

When it was brought to the notice of CARA official, he stated that it is (receiving donation) in complete contravention of its rules.  Alleged agency stated to the effect that when the adoptive parents want to make a donation, why should it refuse since it has no state funding?

Here there's a clear violation of CARA rules but who does the system hold responsible without any substantial evidence to prove in the court of law?  Solution can be found in "Pre-Adoption Counselling" (PAC).  

"Hague Convention on  Protection of Children and Cooperation in Respect of Inter-Country Adoption" mandates that every prospective adoptive family complete a set number of hours of PAC and receive a certificate to proceed any further in the journey of adoption.  Although it is a requirement for an inter-country adoption, spirit of the above stated mandate is to empower the adoptive families of the rules (of adoption process) so that they make an informed decision, so why should it be difficult to implement for domestic adoptions also?  This is the way I suggest that it be done:
  • A neutral agency that is recognized by the state to offer PAC.  Adoption agencies must be prohibited from offering such PAC (to be unbiased) and the recognized neutral agency must be asked to give an undertaking to have no links with any recognized adoption agency in the country.  Failing to comply shall subject them to prescribed disciplinary action of the state.
  •  Any number of neutral agencies can be recognized by the state to do the PAC.
  • State must set an amount to be paid (as cost) by the Prospective Adoptive Parents (PAP) for taking PAC.
  • PAC must be taken for 8 hours minimum and can be taken either in person or online.
  • Topics to cover must be approved by the state government
  • At the end of the PAC, PAP's give an undertaking that they understood all the rules and they shall abide by them all.  Failing to do so shall subject them to prescribed disciplinary action of the state.
  • PAP's are given a certificate in for completing the PAC and no adoption must be pursued by the adoption agency without the PAC certificate.                    
It appears that CARA has made lot of rules to control the adoption agencies but nothing to this effect was done on the PAP's side and this needs to be fixed immediately.  This may not be the magic bullet but it is one brick in completing the system that we all can be proud of building to protect our children.  

If you're a PAP today, and if such a thing (Pre-Adoption Counselling) is required of you, would you go forward with the journey of adoption?  What are your thoughts on it?

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