[Answered] Highlight the challenges associated with laws that govern adoption in India? What measures can be taken to resolve these challenges?

Introduction: Contextual introduction.
Body: Write some challenges associated with laws that govern adoption in India. Also write some measures to resolve these challenges.
Conclusion: Write a way forward.

Adoptions in India are governed by two laws — the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act (HAMA), 1956, and the Juvenile Justice Act (JJA), 2015. HAMA is the statute that governs the adoption of and by Hindus. The definition of ‘Hindus’ here includes Buddhists, Jains, and Sikhs. It gives an adoptive child all the rights of a natural-born child, including the right to inheritance.

Challenges associated with adoption laws:

  • There are no rules for monitoring adoptions and verifying sourcing of children and determining whether parents are fit to adopt.
  • There are very few children in the registry of CARA. This allows traffickers to take advantage.
  • HAMA is a parent-centric law.
  • JJ Act handles issues of children in conflict with law as well as those who are in need of care and protection and only has a small chapter on adoptions.
  • Child Adoption Resource Information and Guidance System (CARINGS) acts as a centralised digital database of adoptable children and prospective parents. The human contact, bonding and psychological preparedness has been taken away. Therefore, there are an increasing number of disruptions and dissolutions, where children are returned after an adoption is formalised.
  • The law obstructs LGBTQI+ persons from becoming parents because the minimum eligibility for a couple to adopt a child is the proof of their marriage. To negotiate these legalities, illegal adoptions are becoming increasingly common among queer communities.
  • HAMA also does not provide for inter-country adoptions.

Measures:

  • There should be a “child-centric, optional, enabling and gender-just” special adoption law like in other countries.
  • There is a need for uniform laws for adoption so that there would be no discrimination in adoption on the basis of religion and there could be equal status and equal rights for all.
  • There is a need to adopt an inclusive approach that focuses on the needs of a child to create an environment of acceptance, growth, and well being, thus recognising children as equal stakeholders in the adoption process.
  • There should be background checks for people wanting to start childcare institutions and a mandatory security check of all those running them right now to ensure that none have a criminal history.
  • There should be a district-level survey of orphaned and abandoned children.

Policy intervention without knowledge of the ground realities often results in little or no benefit. Hence, a ground-level study has to be conducted as suggested by the Parliamentary Committee to bring out child-centric policies in adoption.

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