Section 56(2) of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 provides for kinship adoption and reads as follows,
Adoption of a child from a relative by another, irrespective of their religion can be made as per the provisions of this Act and the adoption regulations framed by the Authority.
“Orphanhood creates a whirlpool of effects – all with long-term ramifications. Child displacement, sibling separation, reconstituted families, social relationships, child marriage, street status, domestic violence risks, school enrollment, nutritional status and alternative care strategies are all affected.”
We are of the opinion that Kinship Care minimizes Trauma, Improves behavioural and mental health. promote certainties preserve sibling ties, protects children from various types of abuse, a continuation of education, children’s right to participation in the process of adoption, et.al.
Globally, from March 1, 2020, to April 30, 2021, we estimate 1134 000 children (95% credible interval 884 000–1 185 000) experienced the death of primary caregivers, including at least one parent or custodial grandparent. 1562 000 children (1 299 000–1 683 000) experienced the death of at least one primary or secondary caregiver. Countries in our study set with primary caregiver death rates of at least one per 1000 children included Peru (10·2 per 1000 children), South Africa (5·1), Mexico (3·5), Brazil (2·4), Colombia (2·3), Iran (1·7), the USA (1·5), Argentina (1·1), and Russia (1·0). The number of children orphaned exceeded the number of deaths among those aged 15–50 years. Between two and five times more children had deceased fathers than deceased mothers.”
“In India between April 1, 2020 and June 5, 2021, 3,621 children had lost both parents to the pandemic, 26,176 had lost one parent, and 274 had been abandoned, according to the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights.”
However, India Today report says,” almost 1.2 lakh children have lost at least one parent in India.”
We are aware of the extent of trauma being faced by the children who have been orphaned due to COVID-19. The loss of mother and father because of Corona is a sudden and un-comparable loss for children. We very earnestly request that such children should not be displaced from the place and family with whom they have cherished the memory of their parents. Taking away children to Specialized Adoption Agency for the beginning of the adoption process may cause further trauma and uncertainty to the children. Leaving the place and people with whom they have had shared their cherished time will cause alienation in them. We so are also apprehensive of the fact that during this process even the siblings could be separated. If siblings get separated this will amount to lifetime trauma and alienation to such children.
CRACR & PD organized a webinar on the issue of adoption of children orphaned by COVID-19 on June 9th 2021, Speakers and participants were Psychologists, Child Welfare Committee Members, Child Rights Activists with huge national and international exposure, Researchers, Lawyers and others. The list of speakers includes Ms. Mamta Sahai, Ms. Vaidehi Subhramanian, Mr. Shekhar Ambati, Mr. Rajeev Sinha, Ms. Preeti Seth, Ms. Neelam Sukhramani, Ms. Charu Makkar, Mr. Anaant Asthana, Ms. Shally Mittal, Ms. Ratna Saxena and Mr. Shashank Shekhar.
All participants were unanimous of the opinion that considering the mental and physical challenges created by the pandemic, we need to go through the current provisions of adoption, so that the children are not further traumatized, suffer from uncertainties and God forbid that the siblings are separated. We, at CRACR & PD unanimously decided to recommend the same to the Ministry of Women and Child Development so that children orphaned due to COVID-19 be taken care of preferably by their relatives or neighbors by putting such children into foster care with such relatives or neighbors, who have shown keen interest in maintaining the child and with whom the child has assented to reside with. Mr. Shekhar Ambati, Child Rights expert having long experience of working for children in UK, during his presentation informed that some of the world-renowned personalities lead their life in foster care. The name includes Marilyn Monroe, Pierce Brosnan, Seal, John Lennon, Neil Morrisey, Eddie Murphy, Coco Chanel, Steve Jobs.
The child should be given in foster care after the family, or the person is declared fit family and or fit person by the concerned Child Welfare Committee. This may culminate into adoption by foster family and care must be taken that sibling/s should be placed together so as to avoid any further separation and trauma. Section 58(3) Of The Juvenile Justice (Care And Protection of Children) Act,2015 provides, “on the receipt of the acceptance of the child from the prospective adoptive parents along with the child study report and medical report of the child signed by such parent, The Special Adoption Agency shall give the child in pre-adoption foster care and file an application in the court for obtaining the adoption order, in the manner as provided in the adoption regulations framed by the Authority.”
We at CRACR & PD have a panel of experts on this and other related issues. We are of the firm opinion that Children orphaned during Covid-19 should preferably be given for foster care to relatives/ neighbors / biological family’s friends, with the consent of the child/ children and upon the request of the adoptive parents, in a manner, that sibling/s are not separated and ending into adoption of the child or children into such foster care family.