NEW DELHI: Following the death of an adopted Indian toddler, Sherin Mathews, in the USA, the nodal adoption agency in India has decided to make mental well-being of prospective parents an important criterion to determine their eligibility to adopt.
The Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) has urged all its global partners to undertake a psychological evaluation, to gauge the parents’ stress and frustration tolerance, by a licensed practitioner.
Three-year-old Sherin was adopted from an orphanage in Bihar in 2016 by Indian-American couple Wesley Mathews and Sini Mathews. In a police complaint, Wesley said that Sherin went missing on October 7, after he made her stand outside their suburban Dallas home at 3 am when she refused to drink milk.
When the child’s body was discovered from a culvert on October 22, he said Sherin died from choking when he ‘helped’ her drink milk. A doctor testified in court that the child’s body had broken bones and injuries in various stages of healing.
Wesley now faces lifetime in jail.
CARA asked Authorised Foreign Adoption Agencies (AFAAs) and Central Authorities (CAs) — both playing key roles in foreign adoptions — to assess the psychological health of prospective parents when they meet them to prepare their Home Study Reports (HSRs).
“We would request that for ensuring the best interest of the child being placed in adoption, all HSRs being prepared for 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 the prospective adoptive parents (PAPs),” the circular signed by Lt Col Deepak Kumar, CEO, CARA said.
A social worker meets and collects information about the social, economic and health status of prospective parents as part of preparing the HSR.
“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, their temperament, stress tolerance, frustration tolerance, emotional stability, decision-making and future plans,” the circular said.
The Ministry of External Affairs has also made its passport norms more stringent for adopted children. Parents who apply for a passport for an adopted child will have to procure a “conformity certificate” from the CARA.