For adopting children, the Modi government had decided to give preference to financially stable single women who are over the age of 40.
A resolution prioritizing women in their forties was passed by the Central Adoption Research Agency (CARA), a statutory body of the Women and Child Development Ministry (WCD), The Indian Express reported today.
A WCD ministry official told the newspaper, "The move was proposed by WCD Minister Maneka Gandhi after considering the many representations she got from such women. Adoption requests are processed by keeping the child's best interests in mind and if a financially independent woman, with a stable income, wants to adopt a child, it very well falls within this criteria."
The move comes after the Modi government has allowed only married couples to opt for surrogacy, ruling out single people, gay and live-in couples.
Earlier this year, the Hindustan Times reported that since August 2015, out of the 412 single women who registered with CARA in 2015, 75 adopted a child in 2015, and the number increased to 93 in 2016. In comparison, out of 28 single men registered with CARA since 2015, five adopted children in 2015 and seven in 2016.
Colonel Deepak Kumar, CARA secretary, told HT, "Single women were allowed to adopt children earlier also, but not many came forward. But with awareness and societal attitude towards single women changing, more of them are coming forward to adopt. Transparent adoption procedures have also helped."
In total, 2,903 children were adopted in 2015 and 2,671 in 2016.
The number of single women adopting children has been increasing slowly but steadily in cities such as Chandigarh, Bangalore, Delhi, Hyderabad and Mumbai. But adoption agencies still prefer married couples to single women.
In 2013, The Hindu published a report on the problems faced by single women in adopting children even though they are highly educated professionals.
Mumbai-based Amy Thanawala, a filmmaker, who owns her own production house, said, "Couples are given preference over single women. When agencies in Mumbai and Pune failed me, I finally found my daughter in Chennai, where I was told she had no takers perhaps because she is dark-skinned and had a squint. But these did not matter to me in the least and I jumped at the chance of having her."
Avinash Kumar, a member of CARA's steering committee, told The Indian Express, "What came up during our committee discussions is the fact that single women often do not have the kind of support system that couples find in each other, or in their families. So when they are clear and committed about raising a child single-handedly, we need to encourage them and make it easier for them."
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