Six months after an NRI parent alleged that the Society of Friends of Sassoon Hospital (SOFOSH) was charging an exorbitant adoption fee, Child Adoption Resource Agency (CARA) temporarily suspended the institute’s inter-country licence for 10 months in a decision taken last week.
According to officials of the state Women and Child Development department, an NRI parent had complained to CARA around six months ago stating that the institute officials had demanded extra fees from him during the adoption process.
According to CARA rules, adoptive parents can pay an adoption fee of US$5,000 to recognised Indian placement agencies through enlisted foreign adoption agencies.
Deputy director, CARA, Jagannath Patil confirmed that the institute’s license had been suspended.
“Due to some lacunae, we have taken action against the institute,” Patil said.
Deputy commissioner of Women Child Development Department, Rahul More, told MiD DAY that the action was taken after the parent complained six months ago.
It may be recalled that last year, during a surprise raid conducted by District Women and Child Development officer Suvarna Pawar, four pregnant girls were found to be staying at the adoption centre. Pawar had issued a show-cause notice to the adoption centre following this discovery.
“The proposal to ban in country adoption was moved after officers found four pregnant girls staying at the institute, which lacks permission to provide shelter to women in a vulnerable situation,” More said.
He added that the proposal was stayed during a ministerial level meeting and the matter is being heard before the State Child Rights Protection Commission.”
Apex court notice to Centre, CBI, CARA
The Supreme Court has issued notices to the Centre, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Child Adoption Resource Agency (CARA) while responding to a writ petition filed by NGO Sakhee and Mumbai-based Advait Foundation on Friday. The NGOs have demanded suspension of inter-country adoption in the absence of a law monitoring such adoptions. A bench of Justices Aftab Alam and Ranjana Desai issued notices on the writ petition after the NGOs argued that adoption has turned into a lucrative business and adoption agencies are giving undue preference to prospective adoptive parents.
Reacting on the recent case of inter-country adoption licences being suspended by CARA, Anjali Pawar, director of Sakhee, said, “The few institutes that are being exposed for overcharging of adoption fees are just the tip of iceberg as compared to total number of adoption agencies involved in this murky business. The agencies are taking undue advantage of vulnerable prospective adopting parents who are desperate for children. This fleecing of parents under the name of charity should be immediately stopped.”