Report No. 153
1.1. This report is undertaken suo moto to deal with the problem of inter-country adoption of Indian children by foreigners. Since there is no Law to regulate the inter-country adoption, an effort has been made to prepare a draft of the proposed legislation.
1.2. The Constitution gives paramount consideration to the welfare of children. Clause (3) of Article 15 enables the State to make special provisions for children. Article 23 prohibits traffic in human beings and forced labour. Article 24 provides that no child below the age of fourteen years shall be employed to work in any factory or mine or engaged in any other hazardous employment. Clauses (e) and (f) of Article 39 provide that the State shall direct its policy towards securing, inter alia, that the tender age of children is not abused, that children are not forced by economic necessity to enter avocations unsuited to their age and strength and that they are given facility to develop in a healthy manner and in conditions of freedom and dignity and childhood and youth are protected against exploitation and against moral and material abandonment.
1.3. It is shocking that a staggering number of about 18 million destitute and abandoned children in India are lying in several orphanages scattered all over the country. It is estimated that each year 50,000 children become destitute and get abandoned by the helpless parents and unwed mothers in our country. Hundreds of them die from malnutrition and disease, due to lack of clean water and inadequate sanitation. Population explosion in our country has immensely contributed to the children's problems. We are the second largest populated country in the world next to China.
The 1991 Census places the population of our country at 846.3 million out of which about one third population is living below poverty line. India ranked 134 among 173 countries in 1993 in terms of the Human Development Index (HDI) of the UNDP.1 Poverty and illiteracy are age-old historical problems rooted in our social and cultural set up. Their impact is now felt and experienced by a large number of children. Elimination of poverty and education to all would take some years but in the meanwhile the abandoned children cannot be allowed to live in the lurch.
1. Economic Survey, 1993-94: Government of India: Chapter 9: Social Sectors, pp. 146-159.
1.4. Moral sense of society compels us to search a solution to the problems of the abandoned children. In principle, every child has a right to love and be loved and children are a "supremely important national asset" and the future well being of a nation depends on how its children grow and develop. In our country destitute or abandoned children are the shocking reality. There is a wide gap between the principle and the reality as far as the welfare of destitute children are concerned. This gap is abridged to some extent with adoption of such children. Adoption is of great help in alleviation of the misery of the destitute children. For abandoned children, adoptive parents are the next best substitute for the biological parents.
1.5. Appalling conditions of children of the third world apply, by and large, to children in India and therefore if it is not possible to provide to them in India decent family life where they can grow up under the loving care and attention of parents and enjoy the basic necessities of life such as nutritive food, health care and education and lead a life of basic human dignity with stability and security, moral as well as material, there is no reason why such children should not be allowed to be given in adoption to foreign parents.
1.6. Where the parents want to give their child in adoption or if the child is abandoned, it would be in the interest of the child to give in adoption. However, effort must be made first to find adoptive parents for the child within the country because such adoption would steer clear of any problem of assimilation of the child in the family of, the adoptive parents.
If it is not possible to find suitable adoptive parents for the child within the country it may become necessary to give the child in adoption to non-resident Indians, failing which to foreign parents rather than allow the child to grow up in an orphanage where it will have no family life and no love and affection of parents and quite often, in the socio-economic conditions prevailing in the country, it might have to lead the life of a destitute, half-clad, half-hungry and suffering.