There are about 60 million destitute children in India and about 30 million families affected by infertility, yet in a year only about 4000 children go for adoption in India. That’s a huge gap! But why are families not coming forward to adopt a child if the need for it is so strong from both ends? Family reasons, non-cooperative spouse, the ever wagging tongues of extended family members, or adoption myths about the long waiting line? May be one or all of these put together.
It’s high time we come forward and generate awareness about what adoption is all about, bust the myths and rope it in the curriculum and the film industry so that couples don’t shy away from adoption and gift a home to a child in need.
Busting the Adoption Myths
If you are reading this and are ready yet hesitant to adopt because of the myths surrounding it, read on as we bust them one by one.
- Only childless couples go for adoption. Contrary to popular beliefs, there are many parents who don’t want to have biological children of their own. And then there are couples who have a child of their own and want to adopt a second one. Adopting a child does not stop you from having a child of your own.
- One must adopt babies and small children. It’s often believed that older children don’t bond well with their adopted parents. This is a myth that prevents many couples from going for adopting older children. In fact, older children are mature, understanding and therefore, bond better.
- Before you actually adopt a child, make sure to match the child with you. Though even government regulations provide for and ensure that the child is matched with the parent, this is a highly discriminatory practice. In fact many parents prefer to adopt from local agencies so that the looks of the child matches in some way with that of the parents; for this couples are ready to wait for several months.
- When the child grows up, parents must never disclose that he/she was adopted. This is very wrong. This is an important step that needs to be followed to avoid confusion and problems later. You must find the right time and context to sit and discuss this with your child when they grow up; it is a part of their identity which must be disclosed to them.
- Single parents must not go for adoption. The marital status of the parent is irrelevant. When a single parent wishes to adopt, as long as they fulfill the basic criteria, they should be encouraged. If they are ready, they can go ahead. How do you define readiness?
Are You Ready To Adopt?
Adoption is not a decision you make in a day or a couple of days. You need to mull over it for several weeks and understand whether this is what you really want. You must go for counseling to understand the whole process and your readiness. Moreover, you can discuss this with people who have adopted, talk to support groups to understand the positives and the flip side as well. Ideally you must choose a professional counselor who can dispel your myths, help you understand the legalities involved and connect you to the resources available to understand the process as a whole.
Related: Adoption in India | How Open Are We?
If a parent/couple wants to choose a child and is interested to opt for adoption to meet his/their own needs and doesn’t show much interest in the legalities involved, then they are not ready yet. If on the other hand a parent/couple uses adoption resources and understands the legal processes involved, discusses his/their intention to adopt with family and friends and accepts to adopt the first child referred, then they can be considered as people who are aware of the process. Only those who have availed counseling and have met families who have adopted children and have adopted a child are considered ready in the strictest sense of the term.
Laws Governing Adoption and How Can We Promote Adoption?
Primarily there are 2 laws governing adoption in India. As per Hindu Maintenance Act, Hindus can adopt Hindu child under the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, 1956 (HAMA). People of other religions can adopt under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 or the JJ Act. The rules governing the two are different. Get more details on them here.
Currently there are approximately 18,000 families registered to adopt and most of them are looking for children under 2 years. But under the Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA), where parents must register, less than 2,000 children are available that are healthy and under 2 years. So, the wait is long. For foreign nationals, it is even longer. Yes, the process is a bit tedious and time consuming, but every minute is worth the wait. The time taken should not be a deterrent to the process.
Adoption gives a new lease of life to the child who gets a new home and to the parents yearning to have a family of their own. Remember to use positive language when you refer to or speaking with parents who adopt or children who are being adopted. Even if you are not planning to adopt you can create awareness and make a difference in your own little way to the cause. If government and employers come forward with adoption friendly policies, if there are tax incentives for adoption and if lawyers, counselors and doctors spread awareness about the cause, more and more families will come forward to either adopt or help support the cause.
So let go of your prejudices wrapped in adoption myths and come forward to look beyond your own needs…Adopt a child.
About The Expert - Avinash
Avinash Kumar is a parent in adoption, author, counsellor and a member of CARA Steering Committee. He is also founder of Families of Joy Foundation that offers a wide range of credible resources, services and insights to adoption. He has devoted his life for busting adoption myths India.Tags: adopted children adoption adoption in india CARA