Retuning Adoption Policy
TOPIC: General Studies 2:
- Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
- Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health
In News: An inter-ministerial panel headed by external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj has cleared a proposal making district magistrates the final authority to clear child adoption cases, in a bid to quicken a process that is often hit by year-long delays.
Present Situation: At present, prospective adoptive parents have to go to civil or family courts to get the final go-ahead after completing all other formalities related to adoption. Though the JJ law mandates that courts have to dispose of adoption cases within two months from the date of filing of application, seldom does it happen. There are cases that have been pending for more than a year also
So, why the change: High pendency in civil and family courts, it is not easy to get a date for hearing. The move to empower district magistrates (DMs) would bring down the time to approve adoption cases to two months.
How high: 800 to 850 adoption cases are pending in civil and family courts at any given time.
Step taken: The panel has cleared the union women and child (WCD) ministry’s proposal to amend the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 and incorporate a clause allowing courts of district magistrate to pass the adoption order.
Would it expedite the process?
- The DM is on the ground implementing the adoption process.
- The Child Welfare Committees, which does the verification of prospective parents, comes under him.
- So source verification and other processes can get completed much faster under DMs
Will the new process be fraught with risks?
- In the name of making it more effective and expeditious, it might happen that the law makes children more unprotected in a country where so many children go missing every year.
- Critics also argue that the solution does not lie in taking away the mandate from one clogged administrative system to another. DMs themselves are a part of 40 – 50 committees and therefore this might not be a priority for them. Either it will just keep getting delayed further and be pushed into the back burner or it will be done hurriedly risking the child’s life.
But the state has to ensure that the child is not trafficked and the mere fear that a child may be trafficked does not mean that we should not encourage adoption.
The Way Forward:
- It’s a step towards encouraging adoption which is much needed for couples who do not want to go through the process of bearing a child or for couples who are unable to bear a child.
- Judicial process is clumped and is under a lot of pressure. There is not enough trained professionals to be able to become a solution to this issue. There is an urgent need to include training as part of the solution.
- We are one of the few signatories of the Hague Convention so our checks and balances in terms of adoption were put in place. The need today is that of simplification, strengthening and structuring of systems so that the process becomes very transparent, streamlined and easy. It can be more logical and rational. Also, the checks and balances need to be more stringent.
- Simplification improvement is a continuous process so every now and then we must visit and revisit all these processes all these laws rules and regulation to make it simpler better transparent and efficient
- The adoption of children is covered by the Juvenile Justice (JJ) Act.
- Central Adoption Research Authority (CARA): Statutory body to monitor and regulate in-country and inter-country adoptions