Children who Need Families in India
Raising awareness about the growing need for families interested in adopting a child from India may seem a little unusual. For the millions of Indian children growing up without parents—or whose childhoods passed in an orphanage—the need has always been great.
WACAP has worked to find families for these children for nearly 40 years, and over this time, has helped unite over 1,200 families and Indian children.
So what is happening in India now to warrant new attention and urgency?
Over the past several years the Indian government has started making progress to address two issues that have plagued the country’s adoption process for decades: undocumented domestic adoption and opportunity for children in institutional care to have a chance to be adopted.
Considering that India is the second most populated country with over a billion people in 2013, it’s striking that only 340 children were welcomed into permanent, loving families outside of India. All of these children, because no domestic families asked to adopt them, were adopted internationally.
Each of these 340 children coming home to a family is a reason to celebrate. Still, for each child welcomed home, tens of thousands remained in institutional care with no hope of having a loving, permanent family of their own.
Building a System to Bring Children and Families Together
Over the past two years, the Indian government has worked to revise their adoption laws and procedures as well as train child care institutions, local child welfare authorities and courts. Part of this work includes significant efforts in documenting the thousands of children residing in orphanages throughout India—most these children growing up without hope of being reunited with their birth families or being adopted domestically.
Because India is such a large country, putting in place an electronic system that had information about the children in need of adoption was critical. India’s Central Adoption Authority (CARA) responded by creating this web-based registry; and with this system in place, their goal of more efficiently and effectively matching children who need families with potential adoptive parents is coming to fruition.
The youngest and healthiest children are adopted by Indian families within the country or by Indian nationals that reside abroad (known as NRIs). But largely, if a child is over the age of 4 or is a child of any age with even a minor medical or developmental need, their only option currently is to find a family through intercountry adoption, or to remain in institutional care until they “emancipate.”
With the Indian government’s new system, accredited foreign adoption agencies such as WACAP can see a list of approximately 1,000 children, at any given time, who are older or have some issue that prevents them from being adopted domestically.
New Processes and System – Hope on the Rise
This online system is still being refined, and there are some challenges but in general, it is a great success because children who had no hope of being adopted before now have a chance.
These may be children older than 7 years whom the Indian government considers healthy; and boys and girls of all ages with a wide range of issues spanning from corrected medical issues, correctable conditions such as club foot or cleft palate, hearing or vision impairments, developmental delays, limb differences, complicated birth histories, blood conditions such as hepatitis B, HIV or thalassemia. There are also many, many children who have more involved conditions such as blindness, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome or epilepsy.
The Indian government does not allow adoption agencies to post waiting children’s photos publically, but we can share photos and basic information of waiting children with families that ask. Unlike the process in China and Bulgaria, the files of waiting children in India cannot be put on hold while the homestudy is being completed. Potential adoptive families must complete their homestudy and have it approved by the Indian government before a child can be matched with them.
Beyond any new or ongoing challenges the system brings, the great news is that many children who didn’t have a chance to be adopted now do.
If you have questions about adopting from India or the country’s requirements, you can learn more about WACAP’s India program here or contact WACAP’s information specialist. We would love to share more.
About WACAP’s Vice President of Adoptions, Mary Moo: Mary has had the joy of bringing families and children together through international adoption since 1991. During these years she has coordinated adoptions in several countries including China, Cambodia, Ethiopia, India, Korea, and Romania. Her career in adoption has been supported by immediate and extended family who are also members of the adoption triad.