As I was contemplating what to write on women and adoption for Women’s Day, an article in Times of India caught my attention – New rules favour single, financially stable women. My instant reaction? I was so glad to see we are slowly breaking away from stereotypical mindsets to a more inclusive approach towards adoption in India.
So, what does this new law entail for single women? The process has been made easier for older, financially stable single women to adopt by giving them the seniority in the antedate given to them by six months which eases the waiting period.
When the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 came to force in 2016, many NGOs were forced to consider the application of single men and women for adoption. Prior to this, in spite of laws that allowed single women to adopt, it was often cumbersome, and society at large was not open to alternate family systems. With the JJ Act, one assumed that it would have eased the legal process for single women to adopt, but many applicants were turned down by some agencies stating trivial reasons, or on some pretext or the other.
The 2011 census data pegged the number of single women (unmarried, widow, divorcee) in India at 71.4 million, and this number has probably grown over time. Today, an increasing number of single women are coming forward to adopt. This indicates a paradigm shift in mindsets in India and we are slowly moving ahead and beginning to accommodate different family systems. Keeping in mind the newer trends in alternate family systems, this regulation will be beneficial to many single women considering adoption.
However, there is bound to be a divided opinion with this new regulation. While many in the adoption system applaud the change, there are many of the opinion that this is not a fair deal. The adoption laws should be unbiased and cater to the needs of all prospective adoptive parents whether single women/men or a couple.
The new law helps older, single women jump the long queue of those who have been with Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) for many months. This is a good enough reason for many prospective adoptive parents to be miffed. This is due to the long waiting period potential adoptive parents (PAPs) must endure. With an average waiting period of 15 months, it can be frustrating for PAPs to have someone jump the queue. (There are plenty of reasons for the long waiting period but that would require another blog.) The need of the hour is to streamline the process which then can apply to everyone equally, and most importantly, place children in a safe and a nurturing environment without any delay.
But for now, let’s celebrate the fact that single family systems are no longer viewed any differently from the ideal traditional family system. The adoption system and laws need to keep pace and evolve with changing times and patterns in the society. The only thing to be kept as sacrosanct is that the child is the priority and we must enable a system that can provide a nurturing environment – whether it is a traditional or alternate family system – as early as possible.