Report No. 153
Practical Working Experience of the Child Welfare Agencies
The practical working experience gained by the child welfare agencies can be summarised as under:-
(1) When the adoption dossier is received from foreign organisation, it is screened by professional social workers of the recognised child welfare agency. When approval is accorded by Indian agency then such agency, which has approved the adoption dossier, files the case for guardianship in local family court, where such court exists or in a district court.
The Indian Council of Social Welfare screens the family documents of the foreigner and, accordingly, makes a recommendation to the court. The judge gives his order if he is satisfied with the case. Thus that every family applying for adoption from overseas is screened by a series of authorities for their character, motivation, stability, mental and physical health, employment and income and life style.
After such screening there have been no cases of misuse or abuse and the problems which have come to light concern the common problems of teenagers and family situations rooted in the child's sense of rejection by his birth parents.
(2) By and large the children placed in inter-country adoption are those who are either relinquished or abandoned. Hence, the religion of the child has not been determined by the child welfare agencies.
(3) That most of the foreign adoptive couples are Christians and they prefer to adopt even a handicapped child and an ugly looking girl-child, which might not be acceptable to Indian adoptive parents, and the children adopted by them receive the best possible medical and emotional care.
(4) Those who are old enough for employment were selected for the job on the basis of their aptitude and did not face any discrimination. Though they are brought up by white parents, yet the adopted children are totally assimilated into the family network and the social fabric. They are not looked upon as immigrants or refugees.
(5) Occasional instances relating to problems of adjustment faced by the children and the family are handled and resolved delicately through counselling by the social Work Agency. To facilitate the child's adjustment some agencies abroad have now organised 'support groups for adoptees'. In these meetings, adoptees are able to discuss and come to terms with various issues on adoption.
(6) Some of the Indian agencies observed that adoptive parents tend to be over indulgent and excessively proud of and grateful for their adopted children.
(7) In some countries agencies through which Indian agencies are making adoptive placements in the foreign country organise social get-togethers at Christmas time or summer time. Some of them also organise 'India Day' celebrations.
(8) The Indian Embassies and High Commissions abroad monitor adoptions of Indian children by foreign parents. Post-placement reports are filed in the relevant Indian courts for 5 years. Such reports of the child are sent quarterly during the first two years and half-yearly for the subsequent three years until the adoption is effectuated. Occasional reports about the welfare and progress of the child are also received from the adoptive parents by the Indian child welfare agencies.
(9) Every year there are visits to India of some foreign adopted children with their adoptive parents. The children are every keen to discover their roots and to know about their country of origin.
(10) Some Indian agencies's workers are visiting the adopted children and their families abroad and sometime conduct social gatherings of these children there in order to get a clear idea about the welfare and progress of the children.
(11) That most of the Indian child welfare agencies have developed close association with foreign child welfare agencies through their work of inter-country adoption. This facilitates better monitoring of the welfare and progress of the Indian children adopted by the foreign parents.
(12) There are some factors which entail the involvement of foreign government officials in the inter-country adoption. Firstly, one of the documents required for inter-country adoption is the 'approval of the country's Government'. This is a document which endorses the validity of the foreign adoption applicants and consequently grants permission for the adopted child's entry into the foreign country. The approval is given after the careful scrutiny of the adoptive parents by their country's government officials/immigration department.
Secondly, the factor requiring foreign government involment is that all inter-country adoption documents prior to their acceptance need to be notarised and the notarised signature is authenticated by either the. Ministry of External Affairs or Justice or Social Welfare of the Country of the foreigner or by an officer of the Indian Embassy/Consulate or High Commission in that country.
Thirdly, the, overall monitoring of adoption process and wellbeing of children adopted, with full status, as citizens having equal rights like others is the responsibility of foreign governments.
(13) Generally social welfare agencies do not restrict placement of children to any one country or agency, excepting few of them who restrict their activity to the selected few countries.
(14) In Sweden when a couple applies for adoption the Government established social welfare committee gives an approval of the family checking out their record as citizens of Sweden. Thereafter, a social worker, who is a Swedish Government employee, conducts the 'home study' interviews, visits the home, screens the family for suitability for adoption of a foreign child.
Then the family registers for adoption of a child from India with a licensed adoption agency in Sweden. This agency is also recognised and listed by the Ministry of Social Welfare of the Indian Government. It is this agency which forwards the documents to the Indian recognised child welfare agencies and is fully responsible for the placement of the child in case of any problem and also undertakes to do post placement reporting as per the requirement of the Indian Courts.
When the child goes to Sweden under the custody of the guardian appointed by the Indian court, the child is legally adopted under Swedish law. The law of adoption in Sweden confers absolutely equal rights upon the adopted child. In Sweden, the children enjoy all social security measures including free education, health, unemployment benefits, old-age care etc. The adoptive parents get one year paid maternity/paternity leave to take care of the child. They have the option to return to only part time work after this leave period is over. The child is offered free day foster-care with a foster mother while the adoptive parents go to work.
Sweden has a governmental apex body called NIA to monitor inter-country adoption. In case any adoption agency or adoptive family has any serious problem, it can take action on the same. NIA holds an annual conference of child welfare policy makers, governmental social workers and members of the Swedish Parliament at which they discuss issues concerning inter-country adoption. At this meeting they also invite people involved in child care activities in India. In this way adoption in Sweden is thoroughly monitored.
(15) In USA where Indian children are placed for adoption, it being a federal state, laws differ from state to state. Some Indian agencies work with a few selected agencies which are licensed for adoption by their state government as well as recognised by the Indian Government for processing and doing follow up work of Indian children placed in adoption. For example, society of Friends of the Sassoon Hospital, Pune, work with the Wide Horizons for Children Inc. in Boston State and Hold International Children's Service in Oregon State.