Every child has a right to love and be loved and to grow up in an atmosphere of love and affection and of moral and material security and this is possible only if the child is brought up in a family. The most congenial environment would, of course, be that of the family of his biological parents. But if for any reason it is not possible for the biological parents or other near relative to look after the child or the child is abandoned and it is either not possible to trace the parents or the parents are not willing to take care of the child, the next best alternative would be to find adoptive parents for the child so that the child can grow up under the loving care and attention of the adoptive parents. The adoptive parents would be the next best substitute for the biological parents.
Now when the parents of a child want to give it away in adoption or the child is abandoned and it is considered necessary in the interest of the child to give it in adoption, every effort must be made first to find adoptive parents for it within the country, because such adoption would steer clear of any problems of assimilation of the child in the family of the adoptive parents which might arise on account of cultural, racial or linguistic differences in case of adoption of the child by foreign parents.
If it is not possible to find suitable adoptive parents for the child within the country, it may become necessary to give the child in adoption to foreign parents rather than allow the child to grow up in an orphanage or an institution where it will have no family life and no love and affection of parents and quite often, in the socioeconomic conditions prevailing in the country, it might have to lead the life of a destitute, half clad, half-hungry and suffering from malnutrition and illness.
The problems of Third World Countries
Paul Harrison a free-lance journalist working for several U.N. Agencies including the International Year of the Child Secretariat points out that most third world children suffer “because of their country’s lack of resources for development as well as pronounced inequalities in the way available resources are distributed” and they face a situation of absolute material deprivation. He proceeds to say that for quite a large number of children in the rural areas, “poverty and lack of education of their parents, combined with little or no access to essential services of health, sanitation and education, prevent the realisation of their full human potential making them more likely to grow up uneducated, unskilled and unproductive” and their life is blighted by malnutrition, lack of health care and disease and illness caused by starvation, impure water and poor sanitation.
What Paul Harrison has said about children of the third world applies to children in India and if it is not possible to provide to them in India decent family life where they can grow up under the loving care and attention of parents and enjoy the basic necessities of life such as nutritive food, health care and education and lead a life of basic human dignity with stability and security, moral as well as material, there is no reason why such children should not be allowed to be given in adoption to foreign parents. Such adoption would be quite consistent with our National Policy on Children because it would provide an opportunity to children, otherwise destitute, neglected or abandoned, to lead a healthy decent life, without privation and suffering arising from poverty, ignorance, malnutrition and lack of sanitation and free from neglect and exploitation, where they would be able to realise “full potential of growth”.
But Country First
But of course as we said above, every effort must be made first to see if the child can be rehabilitated by adoption within the country and if that is not possible, then only adoption by foreign parents, or as it is some time called ‘inter country adoption’ should be acceptable. This principle stems from the fact that inter country adoption may involve trans-racial, trans-cultural and trans-national aspects which would not arise in case of adoption’ within the country and the first alternative should therefore always be to find adoptive parents for the child within the country.
In fact, the Draft Guidelines of Procedures Concerning Inter-Country Adoption formulated at the International Council of Social Welfare Regional Conference of Asia and Western Pacific held in Bombay in 1981 and approved at the Workshop on Inter Country Adoption held in Brighten, U.K. on 4th September, 1982, recognise the validity of this principle in clause 3.1 which provides:
“Before any plans are considered for a child to be adopted by a foreigner, the appropriate authority or agency shall consider all alternatives for permanent family care within the child’s own country”.
Where, however, it is not possible to find placement for the child in an adoptive family within the country, we do not see anything wrong if a home is provided to the child with an adoptive family in a foreign country.
Because primary object is the welfare of the child
But while supporting inter-country adoption, it is necessary to bear in mind that the primary object of giving the child in adoption being the welfare of the child, great care has to be exercised in permitting the child to be given in adoption to foreign parents, lest the child may be neglected or abandoned by the adoptive parents in the foreign country or the adoptive parents may not be able to provide to the child a life of moral or material security or the child may be subjected to moral or sexual abuse or forced labour or experimentation for medical or other research and may be placed in a worse situation than that in his own country.
As observed by Hon’ble Supreme Court in Lakshmi Kant Pandey vs Union Of India;1984 AIR 469, 1984 SCR (2) 795