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Medical, Disabled Adoptions - Few but have started in India now

19 Nov 2002, 2312 hrs IST, Roli Srivastava,TNN

MUMBAI: One adoption in a year is, perhaps, not an impressive figure for an adoption centre. But it is no small achievement when the child has a medical problem. This year, a couple adopted an 18-month-old baby from Bal Asha in Mahalaxmi. The child had earlier tested positive for HIV but subsequently tested negative. For Bal Asha it is the second such heartwarming case in its 15 years of existence. Eight years ago a Mumbai-based couple had adopted a baby with a similar medical history.

Officials of the Indian Association for Promotion of Adoption (IAPA) too have some heartening news. Though the number of applications for adoption showed a decline this year, there were two positive signs. Children with treatable medical problems were being considered for adoption. Secondly, the association was receiving more applications for girl children.

According to Kamudi Telang of the IAPA, of the 16 children placed for adoption by the association in the last two years, nine were either physically challenged or had potential mental challenges or both. While in the past such children rarely found Indian homes, seven of these nine children found a home within the country. Of these, one was a ten-month-old boy with birth asphyxia and a possible mental challenge and a girl who suffered from epileptic seizures — cases that would not have been considered for adoption in the past.
But, officials working with adoption centres, warn that even as the country celebrates the National Adoption Week, there is little cheer for children with medical problems or those who are physically or mentally challenged. Sunil Arora, administrator with Bal Asha, says the centre still has several children with disabilties waiting to be adopted. There are four children who are HIV positive-turned negative and three who are HIV positive.

“The medical condition of these four HIV negative children is perfect, but there are no takers,’’ he says. This despite the fact that it is scientifically proven that tests showing a baby HIV positive at birth could be false. The true status can be determined only after 18 months. Then there are eight other children who are either physically or mentally challenged or both and have been living at Bal Asha for three to six years. Of these four may, perhaps, never find a home, as they are bed-ridden.

While officials have observed a very minuscule change in the attitude of prospective parents they say it is not enough. Dhananjay Patwardhan, secretary of Shradhanand Mahila Ashram, says that they have not had a single case of adoption of a child with disabilities. Even a minor deformity proves to a handicap when placing the child for adoption.

Indians in particular are reluctant to take children with any kind of disability, he says. He adds that foreign couples are more open to the idea of adopting physically challenged children because they have the infrastructure to support them. Mentally challenged children, however, have no takers—neither Indian nor foreign. At this centre, of the 60 children waiting for a home, around 20 are suffering from different kinds of handicaps.

Most couples ask for a normal healthy baby as had the couple who adopted the 18-month-old baby who earlier tested HIV positive. “They had a daughter and wanted a son. When we discussed the profile of this baby, they said they needed time to decide but they came back to us within two days to adopt him,’’ recollects Mr Arora. Such cases are indeed rare.
Gaurang Mehta, founder secretary of National Association of Adoptive Families, says, “There is a small change somewhere. But our experience with scores of adoptive parents shows that the situation is certainly not encouraging.’’

Mr Patwardhan adds that Indian families should at least consider adoption of children with physical disabilities. “We give these children everything but parental love—which they need the most. Adoptive parents need to be more broad-minded,’’ he says

Source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/28797617.cms