New Delhi: The highly-lauded 2017 provision that fast-tracked the adoption process for single women over the age of 40 could now be rolled back, ThePrint has learnt.
In July 2017, the Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) brought in a new policy that fast-tracked the adoption procedure of financially-secure single women aged above 40, by six months.
But according to Deepak Kumar, the CARA CEO, the provision might be “acting against the best interests of children up for adoption”.
“The feedback we are getting from our stakeholders — social workers and adoption agencies — is that we should consider rolling back the benefit we are extending to single women right now,” Kumar told ThePrint.
The provision had been welcomed and received much praise for being a progressive change and aiding adoption by single women. The entire adoption procedure usually takes two years on average, but would take about 1.5 years for women who fit the new criterion.
Kumar, however, says that the 2017 policy is in-effect acting against the guidelines that the central adoption authority is supposed to follow.
“Our guidelines clearly say that we should be considering the best interests of the child — the child alone. Why are we trying to look into the best interest of the parents also?” Kumar asked. “If they are single, we are giving them benefits but we should be agnostic to the parents’ requirements and focus on the child’s interests.”
Kumar quoted Section 3, Subsection 4 of the Juvenile Justice Act 2016 that has laid down specific adoption guidelines that CARA is supposed to follow.
“All decisions regarding the child shall be based on the primary consideration that they are in the best interest of the child and to help the child to develop full potential,” the section says.
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‘Single women should follow same cue as others’
Kumar said that while the body hasn’t taken a formal decision on the rollback yet, the feedback on the provision will be placed before the steering committee soon.
“When the decision was taken in 2017, it was decided that it will be subject to a review based on how it has resulted overall. We keep having national consultations with our stakeholders where we review various aspects of our policies,” Kumar said.
He added that the body has only recently taken inputs from the stakeholders such as social workers conducting home studies as well as various adoption agencies about how the provision is faring.
“Many of them are saying we should not be giving any additional benefits to anyone and let single women also follow the same cue as others,” Kumar said.
Rise in adoption requests from single women
In recent years, the number of single women looking to adopt has risen.
According to an RTI reply received by ThePrint, the number of adoption applications from single women have gone up to 589 in 2018-19 from 495 in 2017-18.
As the adoption process takes roughly two years, there aren’t any definitive figures yet on how many applications filed by single women since 2017 — the year when the new provision came into being — have resulted in adoption.
Also read: Why Indian parents have returned 278 of 6,650 adopted children in 2017-19