PUNE, 26 May 2020 — According to a recent study conducted by NGO Where Are India’s Children, and facilitated by the Women and Child Development department in Pune, there are huge gaps in the current system resulting in low numbers of abandoned and orphaned children being identified for adoption across India.
According to Ande Venkateshwarulu, Child Welfare Committee member in Telangana: “There are approximately 250,000 to 500,000 children currently in India’s Child Care Institutions (CCIs) or shelters. Not all of these children are completely abandoned; the majority are in temporary care while the parents face difficult times, such as sickness or financial distress. However, there are many children who are completely abandoned and who have no contact with relatives at all. These children often face being institutionalised for their entire childhood, which has significant social, physical, emotional, and psychological risks.”
The gaps in the system identified by the report mean the chances of an abandoned child in a shelter being identified for legal adoption are slim; only 2,000 children are currently legally free for adoption across India.
The report by WAIC finds that child protection across India’s 700+ districts is a complex system, relying heavily on manual paperwork and processes, with a high margin for human error. The lack of standardised systems for ongoing checks on a child’s status means that critical decisions about whether a child should lead an institutionalised life, or whether they should be entered into the legal adoption are left to the discretion of the institution. The report found that such institutions often lack training or awareness about adoption and therefore do not trigger the process to check if adoption would be in the child’s best interest. While the report focused on Pune, the findings apply nationally.
In contrast, according to Families of Joy there are currently 29,000 families who already went through a stringent vetting process by the Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) to adopt a child. While the majority of prospective parents who seek to adopt are waiting for a healthy infant, prospective parents also include many families who are open to adopting children with special needs, older kids or sibling groups. Families often wait around two years to be matched with a child due to the higher numbers of waiting families versus legally available children.
Smriti Gupta, CEO of Where Are India’s Children believes technology holds at least some of the answer to this highly complex issue. “Our ambition is to tackle this head on by helping the local authorities to get more visibility over abandoned children in their jurisdiction. We believe the most efficient way to do this is through a centralised technology system which would, among other things, uniquely identify every child and auto-flag children for review. With this sort of information, the authorities can see the bigger picture and begin to determine if there are eligible children in child shelters who would benefit from adoption.”
The general public can also offer their support. Gupta adds, “We are often asked by people what they can do to help with this situation. The general public can help by ensuring that the shelters you support through donations or volunteering are linked to adoption agencies and are sensitised about adoption. You can also encourage them to reach out to their local Child Welfare Committee to initiate an adoption inquiry for abandoned children under their care. If you own or work in a shelter, you can visit our website www.waic.in to learn about the adoption inquiry process for an abandoned child.”
Gupta emphasises, “Where Are India’s Children would like to acknowledge we have had the full support and cooperation of WCD Pune and the State Adoption Resource Authority (SARA) Maharashtra in facilitating our study. We plan to continue to work closely with the government, and look forward to partnering with them to build one of the world’s most innovative solutions to ensure every abandoned child is accounted for and gets the chance to reach a new family.”
About Where Are India’s Children
WAIC aims to ensure that abandoned and orphaned children are accounted for and reach a positive outcome in the best interest of the child. We focus on sustainable technology solutions, campaigns and practical research and implementation. The WAIC team consists of people passionate about child welfare, who have a common vision that we as individuals and society must protect and ensure a future for every vulnerable child. The team is distributed pan-India and includes entrepreneurs, technologists, campaigners, counsellors, business heads, and strategists. WAIC is registered as a Child Welfare and Action Foundation.
The full WAIC report: Child Lifecycle ManagementSolution: Driving Positive Outcomes for Children in Shelters.
Smriti Gupta, CEO, WAIC firstname.lastname@example.org