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Adoption of girls is going higher and higher in Delhi. In a society where a male child is always preferred, this is a refreshing change.
Son preference in India is a key driver of how people plan their families. Parents abort the foetus if they find it is a girl or continue to have children till they have a boy. But adoption statistics from recent years show an interesting counter-trend. More and more families are looking to adopt girls. There is a longer wait period to adopt girls than there is for boys. Adoption laws are also changing for the better, allowing for single women to adopt and pushing to move the system online. Single mothers increasingly adopt girls.
This shift in thinking is concentrated among the educated urban middle and upper class. Financial stability is one of the reasons driving this trend, as girls are no longer considered to be a burden for families. The preference for girls in the numbers from Delhi is seen to be higher among families from South India and Bengal, while those from Punjab still demonstrate a son preference.
Delving a little deeper into these trends is interesting, especially because if it was a biological child, a lot of parents would prefer a boy.
Delving a little deeper into these trends is interesting, especially because if it was a biological child, a lot of parents would prefer a boy. So why a preference for girls over boys or an openness to a child of either sex?
Potential parents believe that girls will have attributes such as being kind and adaptable that will help them become part of the families more easily. These are ‘feminine’ characteristics that might be driving this trend but it is important to remember they often harm women in subversive ways – for example when they are not allowed to pursue ‘masculine’ sports or occupations. Even when families want girl children, they often specify fairness as a criterion revealing the obsession with skin color. Adoption agencies also receive requests for ‘pretty’ infants, showing that girls are overwhelmingly valued for their looks right from the time of birth.
Still this trend provides hope for girl children in India, who are always discriminated against. The move towards adoption also shows a shift away from the thinking that a child always needs to be biologically related to the parents. Together these are hopeful signs for a more gender-just future in India.
Cover image via Shutterstock
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