Illegal adoption messages: child rights activists want TN government to take action

Social media is flooded with messages about children who have lost parents due to COVID-19

May 07, 2021 01:31 pm | Updated 01:31 pm IST - CHENNAI

“For Adoption: If anyone wishes to adopt a girl, please feel free to contact Priyanka. One girl is three days old and another is six months old, they have lost their parents recently due to covid. Please help these kids get a new life, spread the word.” Such messages about illegal adoptions have been circulating on social media platforms, especially during the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. Child rights activists want the government to create awareness about adoption and monitor such illegal adoption networks to prevent trafficking of children. They also want the government to involve civil society organisations to monitor and follow up with families affected by COVID-19.

“All the adoptions are regulated by the Central Adoption Research Agency (CARA). The process is completed through courts and it involves background checks, counselling of the prospective parent and regular follow ups. So if you come to know of any child orphaned due to COVID-19 and has no one to take care of her/him, the public should inform the police, Childline 1098 or the district Child Welfare Committee (CWC),” said a source from the State Adoption Research Agency (SARA).

In the wake of such messages, the CARA has instructed SARAs to sensitize all their staff, District Child Protection Units (DCPU) and CWCs on this issue and to track such numbers on social media with the help of the police so that the children can be rescued at the earliest if the social media posts are found to be true.

“Civil society organisations should be roped in by the government to monitor families, with children, affected by COVID-19. This was supposed to be done in the first wave itself. The DCPUs along with ChildLine should check if the children orphaned due to COVID-19 have any relatives to take care of them or they should be taken to children’s homes and given care,” said M. Andrew Sesuraj, State convener, Tamil Nadu Child Rights Watch (TNCRW).

Trafficking risk

Mr. Sesuraj said that the government should focus on such children orphaned due to COVID-19 amidst all this chaos. “Otherwise they face the danger of being trafficked by touts. Then we will be staring at a larger problem. Another solution for this is forming the long-pending area-level Child Protection Committees in urban areas and strengthening Village Child Protection Committees at the rural areas. They can map vulnerable families affected by COVID-19 in their locality and monitor them,” he said,

Smriti Gupta, CEO, Where Are India’s Children, said that in the past few days they have been overwhelmed by the amount of messages on social media about adoption of children who have become orphaned by COVID-19. “The entire adoption process is regulated pan-India by CARA. There are currently more than 30,000 waiting parents who have completed all the background checks and are ready to take children into their homes. But the awareness about the adoption process is very low. Every single Indian should know that an abandoned or orphaned child needs to reach a Specialised Adoption Agency. People can find the nearest agency by contacting Childline on 1098 or clicking on their state in this CARA link: ,”she added.

(Childline operates a toll free helpline 1098 for children in distress across the country)

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