Embassies get role in adoptive child care

Mayura Janwalkar / DNA
January 9, 2010

Mumbai: Indian embassies will have to play a more active role if the draft guidelines for adoptions from India, submitted to the Bombay high court on Friday, are implemented.

The government, through its embassies in various countries, will have to follow up cases of Indian children adopted in foreign countries and help their repatriation if necessary.

Unlike now, the missions will also have to attest the dossiers of prospective adoptive parents from countries that have not ratified the Hague Convention 1961, before they are sent to the Central Adoption Regulatory Authority (Cara) by an enlisted foreign adoption agency.

The guidelines further give embassies the task of organising get-togethers of adopted Indian children and their parents in foreign countries.

The guidelines have been drafted by a committee appointed by the court after a 14-year-old girl, who developed behavioural problems, was repatriated to India in September 2008. Justice DY Chandrachud had appointed additional solicitor-general DJ Khambata as amicus curiae and sought the assistance of Asha Bajpai from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences in framing the revised guidelines.

The 55-page draft entails a wider role for embassies to liaison with central and public authorities to protect children adopted by foreign parents against neglect, maltreatment, exploitation, or abuse. Currently, only the Indian and foreign adoption agencies are expected to look after the children and the embassies have no defined role.

Advocate Jamshed Mistry, who had intervened in the petition on behalf of Sakhee, an NGO, said, “Now there will be additional responsibility on the government. It is a welcome proposal.”

The draft guidelines make it mandatory for foreign couples adopting Indian children to pay $500 for an inter-country adoption child welfare fund. The fund will be used for the welfare of children who are repatriated owing to failed adoptions.

But an intervention application filed by a federation of 19 adoption agencies from Maharashtra has opposed the additional $500 fee, saying it was a way to “penalise” them.

Justice Chandrachud, however, said a couple which pays $3,500 as adoption fees over and above the travel expenses to India should not find an additional $500 fee a burden. Couples adopting children with special needs won’t have to pay the fee.

The guidelines have also spelled out the need for psychological evaluation of children prior to their adoption.
Since Cara’s representative was absent on Friday, the court deferred the finalisation of the guidelines till January 28.


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