x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Hope for Indian couples in the UAE who wish to adopt

Indian authorities have agreed to accept applications from non-resident couples who wish to adopt, lifting a ban put in place in October 2012.

PV and her husband have waited four and a half years to adopt a baby from India.  Satish Kumar / The National
PV and her husband have waited four and a half years to adopt a baby from India. Satish Kumar / The National

DUBAI // Indian expatriate couples waiting to adopt children from their home country have been given renewed hope with the lifting of a 16-month ban.

Indian authorities abruptly stopped accepting applications from Non Resident Indians in October 2012, on the ground that too few children were available for adoption.

Now Cara, the Central Adoption Resource Authority, in New Delhi which monitors and regulates adoptions, will resume accepting applications from overseas Indians on Monday.

Its online system will register 50 applications a month.

“It’s the best piece of news our documents can be sent forward,” said P V, 37, a sales manager in Dubai who registered to adopt a child in 2009.

“We have been waiting for a very long time. We started the process in India in 2009. We have been repeatedly told there are no children available for adoption which is hard to believe in a country like India.

“After doing all the paperwork in India, my husband got transferred to Dubai. We had to prepare the entire dossier again with police verification, medical reports, letters from friends, etc after which they closed the process.”

The couple have since had a child of their own, who is now nine months old.

“We wanted to adopt and then have a biological kid. My husband and I had this in our mind much before we had a baby. But, it’s been so long and we are still waiting to even register. Many couples can’t have children biologically. I can’t even imagine the trauma they must be going through,” P V said.

Indian officials blamed the delay on the unavailability of children and the backlog of applications from prospective parents residing in India.

“Our thrust is on in-country adoptions,” said Lopamudra Mohanty, a secretary at Cara. “Why should children go overseas when there are parents waiting to adopt inside India?”

One of the reasons given for the delay was the demand from expatriates for infants and toddlers.

“All NRIs want only small children,” said Dr Jagannath Pati, Cara’s joint director. “It is a fact that less children are available.”

Most Indian parents in the UAE are keen to adopt infants and children younger than 2. More than 1,500 children have been adopted by Indian couples in the Arabian Gulf in the past 30 years, with 60 per cent going to families in the UAE.

Omana Menon, who works in Dubai and is licensed by Cara to process overseas adoptions from the Arabian Gulf and prepare the home study report on couples, said the long wait was hard on parents.

“It is an extremely fragile situation for parents,” she said.

“I receive eight to 10 calls from parents every day. They are understandably upset and angry but they take being pushed from pillar to post because it’s their one shot at happiness. This is the only hope for couples who can’t have their own children. When you see their desperation, you cannot brush it away.”

Her immediate priority was to clear the backlog of requests from last year.

“It is absolutely great for parents that Cara will again accept their applications. Parents have been waiting for a year. It is a benediction.”

Adopting a child can take from one to two years, depending on the availability of a child and the legal process of each state in India.

Until 2012, prospective parents could approach licensed agencies directly with their home study report. Once an adoption was approved, the couple paid Dh11,000 to the agency and Cara, after which their case would be forwarded to the state’s family court to legalise the matter.

However, now all reports have to go through Cara. This has further slowed down adoptions.

Only nine couples from the UAE, some of whom had registered as early as 2008, were able to take in children last year, compared with about 50 in 2012.

The long, cumbersome process has discouraged at least three couples from adopting, and some have revisited their decision to adopt infants.

Despite the lifting of the ban, parents are bracing themselves for another long wait.

“I understand they need a lot of verification and it’s a lengthy process as they want to ensure parents are well intentioned,” said P V. “I respect that. The problem is the lack of clarity and the time it will take.

“A lot of people who want to adopt get discouraged by the process. But my husband and I are clear this is definitely the path for us. We have stuck around for four and a half years because we believe in it strongly. If I can give a child a better environment and if it takes a bit of extra patience, I will go ahead and do that. But they should not punish us for wanting a baby.”

pkannan@thenational.ae