The Telegraph
Wednesday , July 23 , 2014
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Easier adoption rules on cards

New Delhi, July 22: The Centre is simplifying adoption guidelines with a stress on reducing delays for prospective parents and treating NRI couples on a par with others, minister Maneka Gandhi told Parliament today.

“Adoption guidelines are being simplified to minimise delays in the process,” the women and child development minister told the Lok Sabha in a written reply.

Among the key changes planned is one to link orphan/abandoned/surrendered children in all childcare institutions to the adoption system. The aim is to increase the availability of children for prospective parents.

The Centre also plans to end the system under which non-resident Indians lose out on a child available for adoption if another couple based in India applies.

The other revisions planned aim to slice red tape. “Reducing the time frame for completion of the home study report from two months to a month and simplification of the procedures for inter-country family/relative adoptions are some of the changes being contemplated,” Maneka said.

The “home study report” is prepared by a social worker who assesses conditions at the home of a prospective parent. “The report has to be submitted within two months of the application. We plan to cut that to a month,” said a ministry official.

Maneka, whose ministry is working towards fine-tuning the Juvenile Justice (JJ) Act with emphasis on adoption, has already written to adoption agencies in states, child welfare committee heads and judges not to delay the process. The minister’s intervention seems to have helped: of some 2,800 applications held up, 700 have been cleared after the letters were sent a month ago.

The revised guidelines, which sources said would be formally notified after the new JJ Act is passed by Parliament, will fix the waiting period for adoption at four months. It now stretches to a year.

Although Maneka’s reply did not offer more details, sources in her ministry said the new guidelines would also include directions to all agencies to get a “surrendered” child — one voluntarily given up by parents — available for adoption within a month. This period is two months now.

For abandoned children less than two years old, state child welfare committees have to declare them available for adoption within two months.

The ministry also intends to link the Central Adoption Research Agency (Cara) to all 400 adoption agencies in the country, seeking to fulfil a pledge made, but not kept, by the UPA government.

Cara, the Centre’s nodal agency for adoption, is linked to only 70 of the agencies at present.

The agencies will be linked among themselves too and with all childcare institutions. The measures seek to ensure the children find parents as quickly as possible.

Sources indicated that the guidelines would include a section on inter-country family adoptions enabling family members living abroad to easily adopt children of relatives in India.