NEW DELHI: Coming down on what she termed the "idleness and deliberate lying" of adoption agencies, Union Minister Maneka Gandhi today asked them to complete the adoption process within four months.
The Women and Child Development Minister said the adoption rate of 800 to 1,000 per year in India, which has around 50,000 orphan children, is "shameful" and that she wants 15,000 children to be adopted per year failing which the worst performing adoption agencies will be shut down immediately.
"I am actually appalled by all of you. I have found bottlenecks, idleness, unconcern, deliberate lying... in this process you have destroyed thousands of lives," she said.
The Minister was addressing the national meet on adoption organised by CARA (Central Adoption Resource Authority) here today.
"When I joined in 2000, the adoption rate was 1,500-1,200 which tumbled to 400-800 per year. In a country which has got 50,000 orphans that can be adopted, it is shameful that the number is 800 to 1,000,... and it continues to come down," she lamented.
"We have found, for instance, the Child Welfare Committees do not do home-checks up to two years. By that time the child becomes unadoptable. We have found that you are lying, you say there is no child, when your orphanage is full of children," Gandhi said.
The minister instructed the adoption centres to complete the process in four months and that agencies who claim they have no children will be immediately shut down.
She further said the Women and Child Development Ministry is ready to help the adoption centres but it depends on the initiative taken by them.
"So far you have been irresponsible and unaccountable and that is the truth of the land. We are ready to provide all kind of support but it depends on how much initiative you take," she said.
The minister also pointed out that the one reason people go for illegal adoption is because legal agencies "trouble them a lot".
Criticising CARA for taking proactive steps, she said "I get two to three complaints every day about CARA and in many cases you have not interacted, especially in Jharkhand. You do not interact with your judges, or bureaucrats. You just sit there".
The minister also accused some agencies of not preferring foreign over Indian parents.
"Many of you won't give (the child) to Indians, you wait for a foreigner. I have zero tolerance for anybody who denies adoption. In our new act, CARA will have a lot of power. One of its powers is to remove SARA (State Adoption Resource Authority), to remove adoption agencies, to completely ban them," he said.
The minister also said that a foster care scheme will be launched for orphan children under which families will be paid by the government to keep them.
"Foster care means those children whom people don't want to adopt but they don't mind keeping them in their houses. Government should pay the money and orphanages check them with the parents and there would be proper training when the scheme starts," she said.