When educationist Geet Oberoi decided to adopt her first child, Indya, 14 years ago, procedural delays were the first stumbling block. She was single and had to wait for three years before she could adopt a child. In 2010, Priya Ramanathan, also single, ran into the same wall. She wanted to adopt a seven-month-old baby, but was told that it would take more than two years as single parents were not the preferred choice. Many agencies wouldn’t even accept applications from them. She was lucky, though—the child had health issues and was therefore not preferred by others looking to adopt. In Calcutta, Nibedita Sen, who was looking after the two daughters of her househelp, reached out to Childline for formally adopting the kids. She had not imagined what this could lead to. She and the biological mother were taken to court, which decided to take custody of the children until they turned adults. The kids thus ended up being separated from both the mothers.
“I was 31 when I applied for adoption. At that time, even some judges were opposed to the idea of a single woman becoming an adoptive parent,” says Oberoi. Adopting her second daughter, Maya, turned out to be less arduous, adds Oberoi, who feels there is an urgent need to streamline the process. “There is no proper system in place to ensure a secure future for orphaned children. It takes at least three years to clear a child for adoption, but, by that time, the children are older and there would be no takers. Instead of strict rules, there should be child protection services to follow up on adopted kids,” she says.