In a statement that is sure to dishearten many prospective parents and may even challenge the well-being of hundreds of orphaned children, the Missionaries of Charity have sought de-recognition of 13 of its 16 orphanages across India from the government.
According to media reports, the Missionaries of Charity have sought de-recognition from the Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) on account of "ideological differences" — mainly due to the fact that the new guidelines notified by the Women and child development (WCD) ministry allow single, separated or divorced individuals to adopt children.
"Till now the Mother Teresa's (Foundation) orphanages had their own agenda and now when they have to come under a unified secular agenda they are refusing it. They have decided not to follow the guidelines," the WCD minister Maneka Gandhi said, reported The Times of India.
While earlier single parents were allowed to adopt children as well, the new guidelines enforced by NDA and implemented in July 2015 insist on having prospective parents register with CARA online, to improve efficiency as well as transparency in the adoption process.
The TOI report states that at least two cases had come to light recently, where Mother Teresa's orphanages refused applications from single prospective parents.
"Earlier parents would approach the orphanage and it was entirely the prerogative of the institution to give the child for adoption. Now prospective parents have been registered online and there is no question of a single parent being rejected. We can track cases online,'' a senior CARA official told TOI. "They have ideological issues with our adoption guidelines such as they do not want to give child to separated or divorced parents," he added.
“But it’s the rule, and they (Missionaries of Charity) will have to abide by it. We told them there is a no reason to refuse a single parent who is eligible and fulfills all conditions in the guidelines. Why deny a good home to a child where there are such a large number of children in orphanages waiting to be adopted,” CARA secretary Veerendra Mishra told Hindustan Times.
The Missionaries of Charity are also against the fact that the new guidelines allow the parents to choose a baby from six available choices. “Mother’s idea was adoption to counter abortion. When a woman gives birth to a baby, is she allowed a choice? She gets what God gifts her. Here too we allow only one chance, we match the baby as per the parents’ background, skin colour etc but parents are not allowed a choice, even if the child has a deformity. We cannot allow parents one option out of six to adopt children,” Sister Amala, in-charge of Nirmala Shishu Bhawan the children's home run by Missionaries of Charity, New Delhi, told The Indian Express.
A Missionaries of Charity sister, who did not want to be identified, confirmed that it was they, who had sought the de-recognition. “We are stopping adoption. We have written to CARA,” she told HT. But she refused to say why the charity was taking this step.
But Gandhi wants everyone aboard with the new adoption guidelines. “We are trying and persuading them because they are valuable, good people and have experience. But if they do not follow the central guidelines, we will be left with no option but to de-recognise the orphanages run by them and shift the children to other places,” she added.
Gandhi, who is reportedly passionate about this endevour, is saddened by the fact that only 1,200 children have been adopted so far, due to several bottlenecks in the adoption procedure. According to a report in The Indian Express, there are over 9,000 parents waiting to adopt but only 800 children are free for adoption.
She is also alarmed by the fact that prospective parents are now moving to China to adopt babies, as the Indian legal systems are too slow and inefficient.