Over the past few years, fewer foreign nationals have been adopting Indian children -- and no, it's not a negative trend.
According to the Central Adoption Resource Agency (CARA), the central adoption agency, the reason behind the trend is that more Indians are going for adoption.
For the simple but important reason that a child should preferably grow up in an environment that is close to his or her roots and imbibe that culture, CARA has been encouraging in-country adoption over inter-country for a few years now.
"There is a steady fall in inter-country adoption and a rise in in-country adoption over the past few years. The main reason is that we encourage the latter and give preference to an Indian or an Indian couple looking to adopt a child over someone else," Anu J. Singh, member secretary of CARA, told IANS.
In 2008, for instance, the total inter-country adoptions were 821. In 2009, it fell to 666 and further to 593 in 2010.
"This year, until June 30, the total number of inter-country adoptions were 259," Singh said.
In comparison, the number of adoptions within the country have been on the rise.
In 2008, the number of in-country adoptions were 2,169. In 2009, it was 1,852 and in 2010 it was 5,693. And this year, until June 30, the number of in-country adoptions was 3,621.
The statistics also show an overall rise in adoptions.
"There is a conscious effort to encourage Indian couples to go for adoption. We feel that a child should be as close to his or her roots as possible. This is why we also give preference to non-resident Indians (NRI)," Singh said.
There is also a general resentment about putting up children to foreign nationals for adoption, she added.
"Often, people come to me and say that we should not put up our kids for adoption to foreigners, should not send them away from their place of birth. But then I tell them that although we too would prefer a situation like that, we get a lot of foreigners keen on adopting and it's better that a child gets a loving home than wait endlessly for one," Singh said.
"Moreover, nearly half of the children adopted by foreigners are those with special needs - who are turned down by Indians. So we have to keep the best interest of the child in mind over everything else," she added.
A lot of children adopted by foreign nationals are also those with siblings who are taken together, who may have suffered from some disease like tuberculosis because sometimes they come from extremely impoverished backgrounds or are older than two years of age or even more - all of which are reasons for most Indian couples to overlook a child.
The top five countries from where people come here for adoption are the US, Italy, Spain, Denmark and Sweden.
"But it feels good to see that the number of people opting to adopt a child has risen dramatically. There is a change in mindset. It's a positive change that we too have been pushing for," Singh said.