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Illegal ‘Adoption’ Rackets Target Kids Orphaned Due To COVID In India

Posted: May 3, 2021

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There are many tweets and other messages doing the rounds on ‘adopting’ kids orphaned as both parents die of COVID. This ‘adoption’ is illegal, with even traffickers exploiting the situation.

*Trigger Warning: This post speaks of death, loss, and child trafficking, and may be triggering to survivors.

The pandemic is a tragedy in a million ways, especially for children. The number of children in need of care and protection is continuously on the rise and adoption rate in India is still very low.

Beware: adoption CANNOT be done in the way they show in films!

There have been several instances where there are posts about children who have lost both/either parents to COVID and or are left unattended, several children have also been abandoned by families due to the financial crisis.

Unscrupulous messages and calls about adopting such children are doing rounds, and so are numerous statuses about individuals/ couples/families wanting to adopt or offer foster care.

While some of these attempts to find or offer foster care/ permanent adoption options for these kids could be genuine and well-intended, sadly many can be unscrupulous and even potential traps by paedophiles and human traffickers.

https://twitter.com/hiyer/status/1389143245221818375?s=20

Unlike the common social perception in India- adoption is not an act of charity. An adult or a couple sometimes an organisation needs to take absolute care and responsibility of a child and hence need to be aware of the legal rights of the child in the process.

What are the risks in not going through official channels?

Families keen on adoption initially sometimes return the children, as was the case here in 2019. In August 2019, the RTI response from CARA confirmed their observations — of the 6,650 children adopted by Indian families between 2017-19, 4 per cent or 278 were returned, mostly because of the child’s special needs or lack of adjustment between the children and the families.

These children are at a risk of being abused and neglected.

child trafficking racket

Image source: Govt of Karnataka

Recently finding evidence of systemic abuse, the Netherlands has announced a freeze on international adoptions.

There is always a high risk of child prostitution rackets and human trafficking mafia operation under the garb of “helpers of children.” As a twitter user rightly pointed out in her thread, “If you take a look at the replies to these posts, you see a lot of men wanting to see photographs of the girl children. Children are not clothes that you need to try out before buying. That men ask for photographs tells you exactly what is on their mind.”

https://twitter.com/nuts2406/status/1388938385507577858?s=20

Why must legal process only be followed?

Hence it cannot be emphasised enough that due legal process must always be followed in case of adoptions and foster care even if the child is of a relative or a step parent wants to adopt them. Without proper procedure the family and the child will run into many legal barriers beginning with identification documents.

So if you come across any posts relating to adoption/foster care of orphaned children, please immediately request the person to take the post down, and bring the case to the notice of the authorities and helplines mentioned below.

What is the legal system in India for adoption and/or foster care?

COVID orphans

Image source: CARA

CARA (Central Adoption Resource Authority) is the nodal body for adoption of Indian children and is mandated to promote and facilitate in-country adoptions and regulate inter-country adoptions. CARA works under the Ministry of Women & Child Development, Government of India. (Helpline 1800 11 1311)

The eligibility criteria and all the procedures are detailed on their website in Hindi and English.

Foster care is a system of non-institutional family-based care under which a child lives with a family other than their biological family. This happens when a child is without a biological family or with a family that is incapable of providing care, or for whom the benefit of extended family or kinship care is also not available. Foster care provisions have been included in the Juvenile Justice Act of 2015. While countries like the USA, UK and South Africa have quite developed foster care system; the system is used to a limited extent in Japan, Sri Lanka and India.

SOS children’s villages is a successful model of group foster care also functional in India. Each children’s village has 12-15 family homes, with every home consisting of 10 children on an average along with an SOS Mother. All round development including education, nutrition, health and psychological development is taken care of till the children are settled in their lives.

In case someone is concerned about the immediate safety of such children they can contact

Image source: YouTube

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Pooja Priyamvada is a columnist, professional translator and an online content and Social Media consultant.

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