KOCHI: 1,017 prospective adoptive parents in the state are continuing their harrowing wait for a child, as the pandemic has slowed down adoption process in Kerala. The lockdown halted it for nearly three months. Couples who have submitted their applications after April 25, 2018, are still on the waiting list
" I submitted the application to adopt a child almost two years ago. We are still on the waiting list. It has been six or seven months since they conducted the home study. We are prepared mentally to welcome a child and become his or her parents. All we know is that they will be giving us three choices for the child we are supposed to bring home. We are prepared to take the very first child they show,” says Sreelekha (name changed), an Alappuzha native and applicant at the Kerala State Council for Child Welfare (KSCCW).
According to reports, the state has only 160 children who are legally eligible for adoption, when the number of prospective families is 1,017, including 32 inter-country applicants. Now, efforts are on to speed up the procedure, most of which has been moved online.However, home study, a key process in the adoption procedure, was hit hard by the pandemic. According to officials at the State Adoption Resource Agency (SARA), the system is only starting to return to normal now. Travel restrictions put brakes on inter-country adoption, but the authorities still managed to complete a few such adoptions even during the pandemic.
T V Anupama, Director of Women and Child Development Department, said that the difference in the number between prospective parents and available children is huge. “This is the biggest challenge we are facing. During the pandemic, the adoption process slowed down and we couldn’t show the children physically to the prospective parents. Also, the adoption committee meetings were put on hold because of the pandemic and this caused a huge delay in the process. We cannot compromise on home study either as we have to be very sure about what kind of a home we are sending a child to,” said Anupama.
“In the past three months, we have covered the pending home studies and other related procedures,” she added. Last year, the state explored the possibilities of making children under six years of age at various child care institutions available for adoption. Currently, there are 741 registered childcare institutions in the state, including 27 functioning under the government.
As part of the deinstitutionalisation drive, the authorities have sent 16,980 children back home or to foster care. “We are planning to continue with the process at least once in two years. It’s a very delicate issue and we cannot force parents to surrender their children for adoption,” said Anupama. Around 30 of the 160 children who are legally eligible for adoption are differently-abled. “Usually, inter-country applicants adopt differently-abled children. Within the state, they are rarely preferred,” she added.
Currently, there are 741 registered childcare institutions in the state. As part of the deinstitutionalisation drive, the authorities have sent 16,980 children back. Around 30 of the 160 children who are legally eligible for adoption are differently-abled.