Adoption without counselling led to the death of Sherin Matthew
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The name Sherin Matthew will fade away. Inquiries and probes may punish the adoptive father but the important question that arises is will it deter such incidents from happening again. The centralized adoption procedure under the Regulations framed by the Central Adoption Resource Authority majorly lacks the important aspect of counselling parents before they adopt. It is very sad that we treat our children like chattels shunned from here to there. Lets not forget the parents were Indian born and perhaps several Sherin are suffering in silence in India and beyond.
In its endeavour to urgently dispose off adoption matters, adoption regulations have been framed to expedite adoptions for parents without applying mind to the fact that a child needs to be comfortable in a particular surrounding and environment. The Home Study required to be prepared is nothing but a questionnaire and the adoption agency preparing the home study and the adoption agency placing the children in adoption with the parents are different organizations. The agency where the child resides understands the needs, emotions, requirement of the child which is to be given in adoption. However, the CARA regulations does not contemplate this at all and the social worker who conducts the home study scrutinizes the parents without an understanding of the personality of the child. The most important lacuna is that the child and his/her requirements are not considered at all. All that the parents are shown is the medical report of the child and in international adoptions the parents do not even meet the children until they are already adopted by the parents. The children given in international adoptions are special needs children, making counselling even more important for the adoptive parents because ultimately they have to understand the challenges of dealing with children with special needs. Little Sherin was a special needs child and had the parents been counselled to make an informed decision perhaps they would have not adopted her at all and we would have her here with us.
The endless wait for the adoptive parents to become parents, drives them to just accept whichever child is offered in the online mechanical procedure, fearing that they would drop down in the seniority list and may not get an opportunity to adopt again. They are given 48 hours to adopt and thus pressurizing them to accept the child without even application of mind. I have come across so many cases where parents accept the children half heartedly but only because this is their only chance to be parents.
Adoption can never be a mechanical procedure. Sherin Matthew's case has been highlighted because the child lost her life but there are many such failed adoptions within India. As a lawyer we find so many parents taking children in foster care and returning them back because the child is not adjusting or rather they are unable to adjust with them. Please stop treating children like commodities. A deep participation and interaction of the parents with the child before adoption is highly recommended. The regulation of CARA which issues a Certificate of Confirmity in the cases of International adoption immediately after the child leaves the country, snaps off the child from his/her roots and makes the child a citizen of the receiving country and mercilessly makes even repatriation of the child back to India impossible. These children are mute spectators and merely because they are destitute we have no right to treat them like this. We strip them off their citizenship without even waiting to see whether they are comfortable in their new environment.
The present petition calls upon the Ministry of Women and Child Welfare to amend the regulations to make it a procedure with more human participation and counselling and under no circumstances can it be a mechanical procedure.
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