NEW DELHI: Mental wellbeing of prospective parents seeking to adopt a child from India will now be an important criterion for determining their eligibility with the nodal body for adoption in the country amending its rules following the death of an India-born girl in the US.
The Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) has asked its partner agencies globally to ensure that applicants who want to adopt a child from India undergo a psychological evaluation by a licensed practitioner in order to determine their "stress and frustration tolerance".
The instructions follow the death of three-year-old Sherin Mathews in the Texan city of Richardson allegedly from choking after her adoptive father "physically assisted" her with drinking milk.
The girl was adopted in July 2016 from Bihar by Indian- American parents. The adoptive father, Wesley Mathews, is under arrest on the charge of injury to a child, punishable up to life in prison.
In an order last month, the CARA asked the nodal bodies responsible for adoption in different countries such as Authorised Foreign Adoption Agencies (AFAAs) and Central Authorities (CAs) to assess the psychological health of parents who wish to adopt when they meet them to prepare their Home Study Reports (HSRs) and determine their eligibility.
"We would request that for ensuring the best interest of the child being placed in adoption all HSRs being prepared for PAPs (prospective adoptive parents) should incorporate assessment related to psychological profiling, details pertaining to non-family stakeholders and any other relevant feedback on these aspects in order to have better suitability checks of PAPs," according to a circular signed by Lt Col Deepak Kumar, CEO, CARA.
A Home Study Report is prepared for all applicants who register for adoption on the CARA's website. A social worker meets these prospective parents to determine their suitability for adoption and collects details about their social, economic and health status as well as family background.
A subsequent communication dated December 20, which amends the format for home study report to conform with the order, says that a psychological evaluation has to be carried out by a "licensed/ trained practitioner".
"A psychological evaluation will include a detailed interview by a psychologist for 30-45 minutes. The interview should be focused on PAPs motivation for adoption, temperament for PAPs, stress tolerance, frustration tolerance, emotional stability, decision-making and future plans," it adds.
The notice also prescribes three specific tests that a parent should be subjected to.
"Looking at the Sherin Mathews case we found that even though the AFAA submitted regular follow-up reports, there was something amiss which was not observed. Therefore, we felt that it is important to have a psychological evaluation of parents who want to adopt a child," Deepak Kumar told PTI.
The norms have been amended only for "inter-country adoption" or adoption by overseas applicants.
"When a child goes out of the country we need to take some extra measures because he/she is permanently going to a different country and gets a new citizenship, while in case of domestic adoptions, the post-adoption assessments are carried out by our own agencies and we can take control of the child if there is a wrongdoing," Kumar added.
The Ministry of External Affairs has also made its passport norms stricter for adopted children. Parents who apply for a passport for an adopted child will have to procure a "conformity certificate" from the CARA after a court issues an order legalising adoption.
This certificate will be in addition to the no-objection certificate issued by the nodal body at the time of matching a child from the adoption pool with the prospective parents.