After four years on adoption waiting list, disabled couple in TN told it’s unfit to raise child

Velmayil has a locomotor disability affecting both lower limbs, with 90% disability.
S Velmayil and P Baby
S Velmayil and P Baby(Special Arrangement)

CHENNAI: S Velmayil (34) and P Baby (36), prospective adoptive parents with disabilities, were denied a four-month-old baby allocated to them after waiting for four long years, allegedly due to their disabilities.

The couple, hailing from Srivaikuntam in Thoothukudi district, were assigned the baby by a specialised adoption agency in Gandhigram, Dindigul district. However, a five-member adoption committee, which included the district child protection officer, stated that the couple would not be able to care for the child, particularly in the first two years, due to their disability.

Velmayil has a locomotor disability affecting both lower limbs, with 90% disability. Baby also has locomotor disability affecting her right hand and right leg, with 80% disability. Velmayil works at a fuel station, while Baby is a noon meal organiser. They currently live in Thoothukudi with Velmayil’s parents.

Married in 2016, the couple registered to adopt a child in 2020. Following the registration, a social worker conducted a home visit. After completing three years on the waiting list in 2024, they renewed their application this March. Another home visit was done after the renewal as well.

“We registered for adoption at the district child protection office and submitted all documents, including disability certificates. We did the same during the renewal process. Neither the officers present nor any information available from the Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) indicated that our disabilities would be a barrier to adopting a child,” said Velmayil.

They received a message and mail from CARA in June that they had been referred to a baby born in March this year. The couple were asked to confirm if they wanted to adopt the baby within 48 hours, and they did. They were then asked to produce a health certificate from a government hospital while appearing before the adoption board.

(Special Arrangement)

While the ortho surgeon from the Thoothukudi Government Medical College Hospital stated that the couple were unfit to adopt the child, the final recommendation from the chairman of the medical board stated that the couple could handle the baby after adoption even though both are disabled.

“The five-member committee ignored the final recommendation but considered the opinion from the orthosurgeon to reject our application. Since the adoption was almost finalised, we went to see the child with our family members and friends. We had bought her dresses, a feeding bottle, toys and a gold chain. However, our hopes were crushed hearing the words of the committee members who were fixated on the opinion we couldn’t raise a baby due to our disabilities,” said Baby.

Meanwhile, disability activists said that the incident showed a lack of awareness among the committee members regarding people with disabilities. They added that it is a clear case of discrimination and exclusion from society.

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The New Indian Express