x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

'Too few children' hits UAE Indian expats' hopes of adoption

New Delhi-based adoption authority has stopped registering prospective parents from the UAE and given parents in India priority.

DUBAI // Indian expatriates hoping to adopt from their home country face a long wait after being told there are not enough children.

About 80 couples' dreams of starting a family were left up in the air after their government temporarily stopped overseas adoptions last year.

The New Delhi-based Central Adoption Resource Authority (Cara), which monitors and regulates in-country and inter-country adoptions, said that they had been suspended because there were too few children and a backlog of applications from couples in India.

"We do not have children available," said Dr Jagannath Pati, Cara's joint director. "We have a large number of parents waiting in India. If you go on registering parents and can't help them, what is the use?"

The authority stopped registering non-resident Indian (NRI) parents, including those in the UAE, in October.

Dr Pati said one of the reasons for the backlog was the demand for infants and toddlers.

"All NRIs want only small children. There are complaints of delays. It is a fact that less children are available."

Dr Pati said inter-country adoption would resume in a "few months" but did not specify when.

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.

About 50 children were taken in by Indian expatriates living here last year.

The freeze on adoptions has not stopped parents from applying.

Omana Menon, who is licensed by Cara to process overseas adoptions, said she received "eight to 10 calls" a day from anxious couples. "There are nearly 50 prospective parents waiting to adopt," said Ms Menon, who prepares home study reports on potential parents from the UAE and the Gulf region for Cara.

"There are 30 new couples waiting to register. Five have been able to access the children but have not got them yet.

"Parents get frustrated. It is leaving them in a flux and there is a lot of unhappiness. But Cara has stopped the process because they want to resolve pending cases."

Ms Menon said she was constantly urging couples who have applied to be patient, but has now stopped accepting new applications until the process resumes.

She said Indian parents in the UAE were keen to adopt infants and children younger than 2.

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

Until last year, prospective parents could approach licensed agencies directly with their home study report and the necessary documents.

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.

Since January last year, all reports have to go through Cara, which designates an agency and the dossier sent to them by the UAE representative. This has further slowed down adoptions. But Cara said the overhaul intended to make the process transparent.

The authority continued to accept overseas applicants for children older than 5, siblings and children with special needs.

"If couples are open to taking physically or mentally challenged children or older children, Cara is accepting applications," Mrs Menon said.

pkannan@thenational.ae