Missionaries of Charity, established by Mother Teresa, has announced their decision to de-regulate 13 of their 16 adoption centres, along with ending adopting services in India, effective 1 August 2015, in the wake of the new laws issued in July under a notification by the Women and Child Development Ministry, headed by Meneka Gandhi. The Charity, that runs its adoption centres under the name Nirmala Shishu Bhawan, are known for their services like food, shelter, and education provided to special-needs children, along with abandoned, and destitute children, from impoverished backgrounds.
The Charity’s request comes after a change in law, that apparently, makes it easier for single, separated, and divorced parents to adopt children.
Although, the previous laws did not hinder single, separated, and divorced parents from adopting children, it was however up to the discretion of the Charity’s adoption centre to approve or disapprove the adoption request, as applications for adoption were filed directly to the concerned adoption centre. This process was said to be tedious, and could take up to months, or even years before the concerned adoption agency reached their final decision.
The new law requires parents to first register their application on the CARA (Central Adoption Resource Authority) website – the nodal body for adoption under the Women and Child Development Ministry; prospective parents can then track their applications online. This new application process, has thus centralised the adoption process, creating an apparent conflict of ideologies between the Missionaries of Charity, and the centre.
As stated by the Veerendra Mishra, to the Indian Express, secretary CARA, there are two points of contention that have led the Charity to end their adoption services in India, “First, [Missionaries of Charity] will not allow adoption by single parents; second, they also have issues with couples, one or both of whom has had a divorce earlier.”
Sister Amla, from the North Delhi centre of the Charity, confirmed the organisation’s decision to end adoption services, and de-regulate adoption centres; she told the media that, “The new guidelines hurt our conscience. They are certainly not for religious people like us”
A statement from the Missionaries of Charity further added, “If we were to continue with the work set up by Mother Teresa, complying with all the provisions would be very difficult for us.”
Moreover, the new law suggests that parents will be given an option to choose between 4 to 6 children before they adopt one. The charity, however, is not in favour of the idea, as they believe that this takes away from the essence of adoption, to view the child as a gift, and not as a commodity.
However, the charity had been contemplating to end their services, “for some time”, to focus their attentions on special needs children who have not been adopted.
The ministry has indicated that since the Charity are experts in their field of work, the government would not want them to close down their adoption centres, however they will remove the children from the charity’s adoption centres, and move them to other centres if the charity refuses to give the children up for adoption.