'Counselling is a must for kids'

Children who are declared available for adoption are generally sheltered in government care homes or state-approved care homes. They are naturally exposed to a lifestyle different from a family environment. Representative image/Pixabay

Pre-adoption counselling for parents and children is not a legal requirement in the country. While some agencies counsel parents adopting older children, no exclusive counselling is provided to children who are declared available for adoption.

However, a child older than five years is asked for his or her opinion just as a matter of practice.

Under the provisions of Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act and Adoption Regulations 2017, once the prospective adoptive parents (PAP) are identified, as mentioned in Schedule VII of Adoption Regulations 2017, an approved social worker documents their living conditions.

Through this, psycho-social assessment, physical and emotional capacity and financial stability of the PAP is recorded. This apart, no regulation speaks about the mandatory preparation of a child who is above six years for adoption. There are a few support groups for PAP. However, there exists no such support group for adopted children.

Why is counselling important for children? Here is a case in point to understand its significance: Nine-year-old Sinchu (name changed), who was rescued by the Childline, was crying continuously and wanted to go back to her adoptive father. But he was in police custody. Sinchu was adopted by a couple who were three years into their marriage without an offspring. She was seven-year-old when adopted. Later, her adopted mother gave birth to a baby boy. Like any other child of her age, Sinchu couldn’t bear the attention given to the newborn and started acting out.

The mother found this difficult to manage and started putting pressure on the husband to revoke the adoption. When he refused to do so, she alleged that the father sexually abused the daughter and filed a complaint. This put the child in a vulnerable situation.

This is one of the numerous cases where adoptions run into a tricky path and the child feels lost towards the end. Of late, instances, where the adopted children are sent back to their institutes, have become more frequent. The Adoption Regulations 2017 does make a provision for dissolution of adoption, but is it being used in the right way?

Children who are declared available for adoption are generally sheltered in government care homes or state-approved care homes. They are naturally exposed to a lifestyle different from a family environment. Their behaviour is conspicuous in nature and the level of comprehension varies from child to child. Unfortunately, the system has failed to take note of the challenges in the transition phase and provide the necessary support.  

(The author is Chairperson, Child Welfare Committee, Bengaluru)

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