From growing up in shelters to WAIC project manager; interview with Sanjay Shetty

Sanjay Shetty is a WAIC field worker from Navi Mumbai. He was himself raised in child shelters as an orphan child. His studies until high school were done through NGOs, and after that he studied his degree and Master of Social Work (post-graduation) from Mumbai University on his own. He has 17+ years of professional experience working for NGOs in the child protection space, and is married with a young son. He has worked to help assess thousands of child cases on the ground for WAIC in Maharashtra.

Sanjay, what motivates you to work to review children’s cases and assess if they should be considered for legal adoption?

The opportunity I never got in my life to get a family; I want to give that opportunity to all other orphan children to become legally adoptable. My own choice is to help orphan children and give them a chance to grow.

What does your daily work with WAIC consist of?

My typical day includes a lot of activities and I enjoy this work. It involves visiting Child Care Institutions (CCI), Specialised Adoption Agencies (SAA), Child Welfare Committees (CWC), District Child

Protection Units (DCPU), police stations, newspaper offices and other stakeholders in the adoption process. It involves creating document drafts, evaluating children’s cases for adoption eligibility, obtaining relevant documents as per due process, and tracking all the children’s cases until the child is legally free for adoption and has been uploaded into Carings (the government’s adoption database).

Can you describe your most satisfying achievement with WAIC?

There are many! Three that come to mind are as follows.

  • A 12-year old girl, whose case I worked on, has gone to her permanent family via adoption.

  • I have also received positive feedback letters from CCIs and CWC, and received an Appreciation Certificate from a CCI.

  • One boy child who was constantly asking me about when he will become legally free for adoption, has finally come into the legal adoption process. I am so happy for him and I hope he will get adopted by a good family.

Are there individual stories of children that have stood out to you personally?

One girl child came into an SAA when she was five years old. Even the SAA could not do the required due diligence to make her legally adoptable, because it was a complex case and a lot of hard work needed to be done. She was moved to a CCI when she was 6 years old. When I took the case, the girl child was already 9 years old. I diligently worked on her case and made sure all her paperwork was completed and due process was followed. Today she is legally adoptable, and she has just been reserved by a family for adoption! I am extremely proud of this case and me and my team’s effort.

Another 9 year old girl child case was stuck for years because there was an unverified person listed in her file as her mother and this person was not traceable for three years. Generally no one works on such cases because it’s difficult to get proper paperwork done as the case gets old. Despite the challenge, my team positively pushed me and I was able to work with the police to get a family non-traceability report and move the child’s case forward as per due process. Today she is also legally free for adoption, and we hope she will find a permanent family soon.

I worked on a 12-year old boy’s case as per due process and his case almost came to completion. However, at the last minute, CCI found out about the child’s old school during the age verification process. Through the school, I was able to trace the child’s full family. He has a father and a stepmother (with 2 kids), who do not want to raise him. The child also does not want to go back to biological father because he used to beat him. But since the father is not surrendering him, the child has to now grow up in the CCI. We cannot process him for adoption because a father exists and parental rights are not terminated even in cases of abuse in India. I am disappointed because I couldn’t give a path to the child to live a real life with a family.

One 15-year old boy child who was constantly asking me about when he will become legally free for adoption, has finally come into the legal adoption process. I am so happy for him and I hope he will get adopted by a good family.

What message do you have for someone considering donating to WAIC? If you like our work, please donate with all your heart so we can reach new heights in our work.

For every child you see smiling with a permanent adoptive family, a lot of effort and funds go into moving that child through the system on the ground to make that child legally adoptable.

Our work cannot be done without your donation.

You can support us by donating at