Orphanages struggle as they bear the brunt of the pandemic.
Kanpur: As the entire country went on lockdown, orphanages around the country had no option but to put adoptions on hold. With the onset of COVID-19, the adoption rates plummeted. According to the reports of Central Adoption Resource Authority – CARA, in-country adoptions fell by 1 percent. whereas inter-country adoptions fell drastically by 39.66 percent since 2019. The adoption process itself takes up to two and a half to three years. The pandemic has made the process even lengthier. Orphanages fear that it might take another year for adoption rates to go back to normal.
“We have seen a huge decline in adoption rates. Due to the lockdown the entire country was shut down and parents from outside the country couldn’t come. Even adoption within the country was put on hold especially in the initial two to three months”, says Asha Sachan, the adoption supervisor of Subhash Children Society. Orphanages also say that lockdown along the financial stress amidst the pandemic is another reason why parents are unable to adopt. Kamal Tiwari, the orphanage owner says, “Due to the pandemic there were a couple of prospective parents who backed out since they would have been unable to take the responsibility of a child while battling a financial hit.”
Prospective parents, coming from outside the country are in despair since they are missing out on the initial months of the child they’ve wanted to adopt. This is mainly due to the long and tedious process of the adoption and the paperwork getting stuck amidst the pandemic. Mr. and Mrs. Sahani (names changed on request) say, “This is a very tough time for us. We have been hoping to adopt a little girl but the pandemic has slowed the process so much. We went back and forth for the paperwork to be released but this is an extremely tedious process.” Orphanages express their concerns stating that they are answerable to these parents who are desperate to adopt but the lengthy procedure of adoption along with the pandemic has made it worse. Prerna Singhal, a caretaker in the orphanage says, “We have been under tremendous pressure. It is particularly hard for those children who are old enough to understand that they are being adopted but are unable to meet their parents. They already waited for so long but nobody was expecting a pandemic followed by a country lockdown.”
Minister of Child and Women Welfare- Uttar Pradesh, Swati Singh acknowledges the problem of the tedious procedure of adoption and says that the government is already working towards making the process smoother. “Our government is working on the process to make it simpler but it cannot happen overnight. Because of the pandemic, the economy across the country has been hit. Recovering will take time. We’ve been trying to extend monetary help to the adoption centers as much as we can”, she says. Child adoption lawyers talk about the necessary change that needs to be implemented in the adoption laws. Child adoption Advocate, SK Shukla says, “Ideally the process that takes so long must come down to six months. Stringent laws must be passed by the government to make amendments to the child adoption bill. The adoption rate is as such very low in India.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought the lives of these orphans at a standstill. The orphanages in the city plan to file a petition requesting for a necessary breakdown of the adoption laws, with a hope to save the parents and the children from further despair.