Is it essential to be married in order to be a good parent? Does being single make a man or woman less capable of raising a child? These are pertinent questions to ask as we celebrate Parents Day on July 22. If the idea of a single person bringing up kids seems incongruous, consider the statistics.
Reports of the Indian Association for Promotion of Adoption and Child Welfare show that the number of single women who are adopting is steadily growing in India. Since the government announced its decision exactly a year ago to help single women to adopt, 314 single women above 40 years have been able to bring home a child, Ministry of Women and Child Development (WCD) Secretary Rakesh Shrivastava said.
A committee set up under the Ministry of Women and Child Development (WCD) had decided to give single women, who are above 40 years and financially stable, date seniority of six months once they register for adoption. The move was proposed by WCD minister Maneka Gandhi. Prospective parents have to wait for at least up to a year to get the child of their preference. The government’s decision effectively reduces the waiting period for them by half.
There were a total of 817 single women registered with the nodal adoption body, Child Adoption Resource Authority (CARA), last year. Of these, 457 were above 40 years, according to an RTI response sought by PTI.
The universal desire to have a family irrespective of a spouse, increasing financial stability and changing social mindsets are behind this progressive trend. Things weren’t always hunky dory for women wanting to adopt, however. When Bollywood personality and former Miss Universe Sushmita Sen tried to adopt her eldest daughter Renee, the court didn’t allow it until two years later. Renee will turn 19 this September. “I was 24 years old, and I had been trying since I was 22 to become a mom by the process of adoption. It took me a while and I got the custody for my first baby,” said Sen in an interview.
After becoming Renee’s mom, she planned to adopt another three-month old baby girl and fought a longer battle. “The second child was actually a bigger court fight than the first one, because in India, the rules said, you could not adopt a daughter after a daughter. You have to adopt a son,” she said. It took ten years, but she won the fight to adopt her second child Alisah.
What you need to know
- You can adopt a child from recognised private placement agencies, Shishu Grehas or State Adoption Cells
- The single parent should have additional family support.
- The adoptive parent has to be both medically fit and financially settled.
- A minimum age difference of 21 years between the single mother and the adopted child is required if it is a boy
- The single parent should be between 30 – 45 years in age if she wishes to adopt a child in the age group of 0-3 years. The upper limit for a child older than 3 years is 50.
- According to the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act of 1956, Indian citizens who are Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, or Buddhists are allowed to adopt not more than one child of a particular sex.
- For foreigners, NRIs and Indian nationals who are Muslims, Parsis, Christians or Jews, according to the Guardian and Wards Act of 1890, the parent only acts as a guardian till the child turns 18.