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Adoption agencies faced with shortage of children
12 Mar 2004, 0229 hrs IST, Roli Srivastava,TNN

MUMBAI: The list of parents in queue to adopt a child has grown at adoption agencies even as the number of children available has dropped. And the reasons are both good and bad.

Kaumudi Telang of the Indian Association of Adoptive Families says that earlier an average of 60 parents adopted kids from the agency every year, but the figure has now dropped sharply to around 24. “The number of adoptive parents has not gone down but the number of children available for adoption has,’’Ms Telang notes.

Adoption statistics with the Indian Council of Social Welfare —from 348 adoptions in Mumbai in 1994 to 453 in 2003— perhaps give an impression that adoption rates have remained constant. But experts point out that the insignificant increase in adoptions is because agencies do not have enough children.

Bal Asha, an adoption agency in Mahalaxmi, placed 55 children in 2003 as against 73 in 2002. “That was because wehad fewer children last year,’’ says Sunil Arora, administrator of Bal Asha. He adds that finding a home for children with medical problems or special needs continues to be a problem but healthy babies are able to find homes inMumbai itself.

The main reason for fewer children available for adoption, say experts, is the decline in the number of unwed mothers thus resulting in fewer abandoned babies. Experts attribute this decline to the popularity of birth control measures among women. Even among women who go ahead with their pregnancies, fewer give up their children now, they say.

Adoption expert Nilima Mehta points out that even though an institution could be bursting at its seams, only some children would be ‘legally free’ for adoption. But a more disturbing explanation for the falling number of children is the alleged malpractice of some doctors and adoption agencies.

Gaurang Mehta of National Association of Adoptive Families says that “baby trafficking’’ is on the rise. “In fact, a Mahim-based doctor advertised ‘healthy Indian babies available’ in US publications and was later arrested.

Couples tell us about certain agencies promising to “simplify procedures’’ at a price,’’ Mr Mehta says. Perhaps this explains why despite the paucity of children, some agencies have a steady flow of babies through the year.

Questions Shalini Bharat, former chairperson of Voluntary Coordination Agency and sociologist with TISS, “Where are these agencies getting so many babies from?’’ According to experts, agencies have been known to offer monetary benefits to unwed mothers to get their babies. While there still needs to be more awareness about adoption, experts note an attitudinal change.

At Bal Asha, the number of couples making enquiries has increased from 15 to an encouraging 25 per month now. Also, childless couples in their early 30s are looking at adoption as an alternative.

Source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/555283.cms