09/29/2016, 15.16
INDIA
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India opts for first come, first served basis for 50 hard-to-place children

by Nirmala Carvalho

Would-be adoptive couples received a message asking them to “reserve” children online. The scheme is designed to help placement of disabled or older children whom no one wants. For the president of the Family Commission of the Bishops' Conference, “This is a pure commodification of babies”.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) – India’s Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) has put up for adoption 50 seemingly un-adoptable children on a first come, first served basis. The children are older than five or have physical problems.

This initiative has caused an uproar among would-be adoptive couples over the ‘midnight sale’ marketing-style scheme. They are not alone.

“I was shocked when the Central Adoption Resource Authority put out an announcement on ‘Children for immediate placement’,” said Mgr Dominic Savio Fernandes, auxiliary bishop of Mumbai and president of the Family Commission for the Western Region of the Indian Bishops' Conference.

“This,” he noted, “is a pure commodification of babies where they are robbed of their human dignity and treated merely as objects to be sold or got rid of as quickly as possible.” Instead, “Children are the joy of families and society.”

It all started last Monday (26 September) when CARA posted a message saying "Children for immediate placement" that all the registered couples – some 10,000 registered – received both through email and text. The message provided the link to a website where they could “reserve” the children.

Some couples who lost out in the rush complained that they could not access the website. Others posted comments on an online adoption forum, saying "This is pathetic. Looks like a festive offer. . . midnight sale for essential commodities . . . don't know what's going on . . . extremely shameful."

CARA handles adoptions in India. The adoption process can take from two to four years. Couples can register their preference in terms of a child's age, gender and region of origin.

When a couple's turn in the queue comes up, six children meeting these specifications are presented to them and they are asked to pick one. If they don’t choose any of the six, they go back to the end of the queue.

One of the incentives of yesterday's offer was that if those who reserved the children eventually backed out after inspection, they would not lose their place or "seniority" in the queue.

CARA secretary Deepak Kumar said this scheme was chosen to speed up adoptions, especially for "hard-to-place" children that no one wants.

Such children often stay with childcare institutions "for more than two or three months despite being referred to prospective adoptive parents", whereas other children are adopted within days.

"Many times in my experience I have seen that they (couples) may consider an older child once they are given the option. This system gives both the prospective adoptive parents and the children another option," Kumar noted.

However, for Mgr Fernandes, this scheme is unacceptable. "“The most endangered species in today’s world are babies, especially females,” he said. “They are either killed in the womb, which, ironically, is meant to provide them a safe environment; or, some who escape abortion are abandoned in garbage bins and on the roads and left to die.”

“Many babies are deprived of the fundamental right to live,” the prelate laments. “Those abandoned ones who do survive are put in orphanages, in homes and are also given to authorities dealing with adoption of children.”

“Formerly, babies were given in adoption only when the authorities were convinced that they would be loved and cared for by their adopting parents - the focus was always on the welfare of the babies.”

Now children are not seen “as human persons to be loved and respected. [. . .] This is a sad reflection of our insensitivity towards our fellow human beings.”

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