The Goa State Commission for Protection of Child Rights has issued an advisory regarding the alarming rise in unlawful adoption practices.
It has identified a concerning trend, especially in South Goa, where childless couples are involved in unauthorised adoption practices, posing significant risks to the well-being of vulnerable children.
The commission says that unlawful adoption practices present a substantial challenge, involving the bypassing of established legal procedures.
Such an unethical trend undermines the legal safeguards meant to protect children and the adopting families.
The associated risks, the commission says, go beyond immediate consequences, exposing vulnerable children to potential exploitation.
This not only endangers their well-being, but also poses a threat to community integrity, with implications for trust in the legal adoption processes.
As per its findings, GSCPCR says the modus operandi involves middlemen identifying families in vulnerable conditions, particularly those residing on the streets or facing financial hardship, as potential targets.
They then assess their susceptibility and willingness to surrender infants for adoption and employ deceptive means to persuade such families into willingly relinquishing their infants for adoption.
It further says that childless couples, through middlemen, initiate contact with targeted families, to streamline the adoption process by sidestepping established legal adoption procedures.
A systematic strategy is developed to produce false legal documents, falsely indicating that the child was born at home. These counterfeit documents are presented to the authorities, falsely portraying the child as the biological offspring of the adopting couple.
As per GSCPCR, the adoption procedures in India are guided by specific laws to ensure a regulated and secure process.
The Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956 (HAMA), and the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 are the primary regulations overseeing adoption.
The system experienced a significant change in 2015 with the introduction of the Child Adoption Resource Information and Guidance System (CARINGS), streamlining the entire adoption process.
According to these laws, not all abandoned or orphaned children qualify for adoption. Initially presented before the district child welfare committee, these children are placed in childcare institutions under the Juvenile Justice Act.
If attempts to reunite them with the family fail, the child welfare committee deems them legally available for adoption.
The district child protection unit then connects these children with an adoption agency, officially registering their details with CARA. Before matching them with prospective parents, CARA conducts a thorough medical examination and a home study.
The district magistrate reviews the adoption request before making the final decision.
Sections 80 and 81 of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 outlines penalties for those not following the proper adoption procedures, including imprisonment and fines.
Section 81 addresses the issue of child sale and procurement, imposing strict penalties such as rigorous imprisonment and fines.
GSCPCR has urged childless couples to follow legal adoption procedures, collaborating with reputable adoption agencies to ensure the safety and well-being of the children and adoptive parents.
It also seeks that information or witness accounts of suspicious adoption activities be given to law enforcement agencies or child protection agencies.
It calls on childless couples considering adoption to seek guidance from Matruchaya in Ponda (South Goa), Caritas Goa in North Goa, and the District Child Protection Unit in both North and South Goa for assistance with the adoption process.