Safe surrender awareness needed to tackle child abandonment: Activists | Bombay News


That India abandoned 6,459 babies between 2016 and 2020 does not surprise Smriti Gupta, a proud mother of two adopted children. “Probably the actual number of dropouts is much higher,” says Gupta, CEO and co-founder of Where are India’s Children (WAIC), a Pune-based nonprofit that tries to raise awareness of invisible children. abandoned and orphaned. who are never part of India’s legal adoption pool, mainly because vulnerable parents and guardians are unaware that they can safely return the child to adoption agencies instead of leaving them in shelters.
Less than 2% of orphans and abandoned children of around $ 3 million in India enter its Child Care Institutions (CCIs) or shelters and less than 2,000 of them make it to the system at any time. legal adoption from India, according to WAIC. The rest – a faceless mass left in toilets and trains, doctored or abandoned to illegal worshipers – inflates the cruel national irony recently exposed by the NCRB report on abandoned children in which Delhi and Maharashtra have emerged as places that saw the highest number of desertions between 2016 and 2020, feticides and infanticides combined. “More than 30,000 expectant parents are waiting two to three years to adopt,” Gupta explains, “and on the other hand, children are being killed or traumatized by dangerous abandonment.”
The Juvenile Justice Act (JJ) – which obliges hospitals, CCIs, foster agencies and Child Protection Committees (CWCs) to legally bring abandoned babies into the system. adoption – allows parents to hand over their child to adoption agencies or the CWC. “The procedure is simple,” said CWC chairman Milind Bidwai. Following the submission of a “surrender letter”, parents or guardians who wish to abandon a child have 60 days to reconsider their decision as a result of which documents such as Aadhar card, PAN card and discharge documents from the hospital are collected. “Many tend to believe that safe surrender involves a lot of paperwork, which leads them to opt for illegal shortcuts,” Bidwai explains, stressing the need to educate tribal and rural areas.
For every single mother, divorced couple, and those in extra-marital relationships who come to hand over their child, there is an abandoned, whiny kid handed over by the cops. “Every month the cops give us at least one abandoned child in a cemetery or elsewhere,” says Urmila Jadhav, CWC member, Mumbai City, who was shaken by news of a woman who drowned a child in a canister of water. in Parel “because she was his second daughter”. “It means we have failed as a system,” says Jadhav.
The stigma around quitting doesn’t help. “To abandon a biological child in India is considered a very bad thing while safe abandonment should be seen as part of a plan that the biological parent is putting in place,” says Sunil Arora of Bal Asha Children’s Shelter Trust, who is all too familiar with the bloody consequences of dangerous abandonments ranging from dog bites to disabilities inflicted by shards of glass. “Giving up can cause permanent trauma to the child,” says Savita Nagpurkar, adoption manager at the Indian Association for the Promotion and Adoption of Child Welfare (IAPA), which advises and offers even financial assistance to single mothers whose reasons for abandoning the child are economic.
The solutions go beyond raising awareness. Arora emphasizes introducing amendments that allow vulnerable parents to confidentially hand over their child without any stigma or legal repercussions at local police stations and fire stations while Gupta insists that the Child protection should be built as a separate constitutional structure “like the Election Commission of India, where central, state and district child protection agencies are overseen and accountable.”


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