India authorities assure UAE couples process will speed up

Maneka Gandhi, Indian minister for women and child development, said the ongoing process of shifting children from unregistered child care institutions to state adoption agencies would substantially reduce the waiting period.

Thousands of children are orphaned or abandoned in India each year, and expatriates are lining up to adopt them. Money Sharma / AFP
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DUBAI // The Indian government assured its citizens overseas that measures were being taken to speed up the adoption process by working with the courts.

Maneka Gandhi, Indian minister for women and child development, said the ongoing process of transferring children from unregistered childcare institutions to adoption agencies would substantially reduce the waiting period. There are about 1,200 children waiting to be adopted and about 9,000 prospective parents, she said.

“We are working closely with the judiciary to speed up their part of the process,” Mrs Gandhi said. “I would like to reach out to all prospective adoptive parents from the UAE and advise them to diligently follow the steps through the website ‘Carings’.”

Indians overseas said it took at least three years to finally bring their adopted child home and are asking for the wait to be cut to the minimum 18-month wait it takes in India.

Delays are blamed on long, drawn-out court and bureaucratic procedures and documents that take weeks to be delivered.

Parents said children’s homes were unaware that once parents officially consented to a child, they could leave the shelter to live with their new parents or appointed relatives in India while waiting for the adoption order and passport.

Many praised Mrs Gandhi for promptly responding to emails and said most officials were helpful, but parents called for better communication between adoption homes and the central adoption resource authority.

“There needs to be clarity on the steps and this should be universal across India, it should not change depending on the city and person managing the case,” said Ajay Keerthy, a father who welcomed 14-month-old Anya to Dubai last month after a seven-year wait.

“There is no two-way communication between the authority and city agencies, so parents run around for everything.”

Mr Keerthy advised parents to escalate their case to senior -officers if officials or centres were not responsive.

Others appealed for a quick court adoption order to avoid repeated visits to India and for the authority’s overseas representatives to hold paid positions instead of being volunteers.

“It is very demoralising to be told it will take more than two years. If we change countries, we must reapply all over again,” said Bhattacharya, a prospective parent in the UAE.

“Why can’t they ask parents to come down for a few weeks and complete all the formalities?”

Those living in Saudi Arabia and the UAE cannot adopt children with HIV or other infectious diseases because of visa rules, so they must be shown other children in need of a home.

“Parents ask for normal, healthy children, but some may have HIV, hepatitis, mental imbalances, special needs. It is painful but parents will say no because for serious problems like HIV they will not get visas. Then they are back in the queue,” said Omana Menon, who is licensed by the authority for adoptions in the UAE and Gulf. “There are pluses and minuses. When you think what would be the alternative for these children in a home and you see the parents’ happiness, we feel part of the joy when a child finally gets a home.”

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Criteria for adoption

Rules for -non-resident Indians.

•Prospective adoptive parents should be physically, mentally and emotionally stable, financially capable, motivated to adopt a child and should not have any life-threatening medical condition.

•An adoptive father, irrespective of his marital status and whether or not he has his own biological son or daughter, can adopt a child.

•A single woman is eligible to adopt a child of any gender.

•A single man is not eligible to adopt a girl.

•In the case of a couple, the consent of both spouses is required.

•No child shall be given in adoption unless the couple has at least two years in a stable marital relationship.

•The minimum age difference between the child and either of the prospective adoptive parents should not be less than 25 years.

•The parent’s age on the date of registration shall be considered to apply for children of different age groups.

•For a child up to the age of four years, the maximum combined age of parents allowed is 90 and of a single adoptive parent 45.

•For four to eight-year-olds, the maximum combined age of parents allowed is 100 and a single parent 50; while from eight to 18 years of age, the age for both parents can be 110 years or a single parent can be 55 years.

•Couples with more than four children will not be considered for adoption.

•To simplify procedures, federal guidelines in 2015 mandate that instead of parents contacting different state adoption agencies, there is direct communication via an online system.

•Couples select the state, male or female child, normal or child with disability, on the Central Adoption Resource Authority portal before being offered options of six children and are then directed to agencies.

•Parents can register on the Child Adoption Resource Information and Guidance System online.

Source: Central Adoption Resource Authority, Ministry of Women & Child Development, Government of India.

rtalwar@thenational.ae