New Delhi, July 12 (KMS): More than 800 children have died in state-run specialised adoption agencies since 2018 in India.
Of these, most are below two years old, the Indian official data said.
The main reason for the fatalities, they explained, is “unsafe abandonment”, including children being found with dog bites and so vulnerable they can’t be saved.
Breaking up the numbers, the Central Adoption Resources Authority (CARA) said in response to multiple RTIs filed by PTI that 118 children, 104 of them below two, died in state and Central Government-run agencies in 2021-22.
In 2020-21, the number was 169 and in 2019-20 it was 281. In 2018-19, 251 children died in the agencies, according to the data.
Of the total 819 children, 481 were girls and 129 those with special needs, defined as those who have some type of disability and require exceptional care and extra help.
Data for the number of children below two was not available.
Nearly 7,000 children, as on June 28 this year, are living in specialised adoption agencies in India.
According to an official, most of the deaths occurred in the under two-year age group. In some cases, parents surrender their sick, older children to these agencies as they are not able to take care of them. “It is unfortunate but a fraction of children in these specialised adoption agencies do not survive and the main reason behind it is unsafe abandonment.
“At times they are found in such vulnerable conditions that they are beyond saving. Many children are found with dog bites and by the time we find them it is too late,” a senior CARA official explained.
Enakshi Ganguly, child rights activist, said there is need to look beyond numbers at each and every case to see how and why these deaths occurred. “I think there needs to be much greater transparency and accountability from the government on the subject. It becomes incumbent on care organisations to be much more transparent,” she added.
Easing the problems in adopting a child and bringing in greater accountability in how adoption agencies function could change the situation, said experts.
There are 16,155 cases of prospective parents waiting for more than three years to adopt a child, they said. In total, 28,501 prospective parents (PAPs) are in queue to adopt a child while 3,596 children are legally free for adoption.
Ariana (name changed), found in a plastic bag when she was a new born in Aurangabad in 2013, could have been a statistic. But she was adopted by Delhi-based parents when she was six months old and now, nine years later, is a happy child who loves playing tennis and cricket. Her mother said every day since they adopted Ariana has been a gift.