6,000 kids not legally adopted in Gujarat
Himanshu Kaushik/Times of India
December 30, 2009
AHMEDABAD: If Jan Balaz and Susan Lohle, the German couple who got twins from a Gujarati surrogate mother, have to adopt their sons as a way out of German laws which do not recognise surrogacy, they might have to spend another lifetime cutting the adoption red tape here.
Over 6,000 orphaned children in Gujarat don’t have legal parents since 2004, either because agencies did not file their cases on time, courts delayed adoption procedures or agencies broke rules thus invalidating the adoption, notes the Comptroller and Auditor General in its report of 2008-09. Some children don’t have legal parents even over four years when they are already in school.
As per guidelines of the Central Adoption Resource Agency (CARA), the adoptive parents can take the child on pre-adoption foster care after signing a foster care affidavit only after a case is filed in the court. The state government then has to ensure that the adoption is legalised within six months.
However, scrutiny of records in six adoption agencies in Gujarat revealed that between May 2004 and September 2008, court orders were pending in 55 cases for up to 53 months. In 50 cases, adoption agencies had delayed filing of cases in the court.
The CAG report stated that as per guidelines, the agencies were to file a petition in court after matching, and place the child for pre-adoption foster care to the prospective adoptive parents. However, in Shishu Gruh, Khanpur, in Ahmedabad, six children were given without completing the formalities and siblings were separated, thus breaking the rules, notes CAG.
Similarly in Mahipatram Roopram Ashram in Ahmedabad 23 abandoned children were given away without the required paper work. Rules say that a child can be freed for adoption only two months after it has come to the orphanage.
However, Shishu Gruh gave away nine children before completing two months. Prakash Thakkar, senior counsel at Gujarat High Court, says “in absence of speedy disposal of such cases, the child is at a loss and even the parents longing for the child, suffer. This is torturous for both.” He says that this was mainly because “courts have failed to accept the sensitivity of these cases. The proceedings are simple, the judge has all the papers before him and does not have to question the foster parents much. It is a mere formality”.