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Intercountry Adoption: An Instrument Of Child Trafficking

When a family is without children because the parents are unable to conceive due to infertility, they turn to adoption as a solution. The opportunity to parenthood that adoption offers the parents is one they otherwise wouldn't have had. Due to the medical, financial, and emotional risks associated with IVF, these parents decide against it.

Instead, they choose adoption, which benefits both the parents and the child by giving them a home and allowing them to experience motherhood. However, current trends have introduced the idea of international adoption, in which parents adopt kids from other nations.

There are a number of reasons for this. First, a couple who is living abroad must want to adopt a child from their country of origin. Second, there may be a personal connection to the nation. Finally, there may be a humanitarian need to act in order to provide the child from another nation with a good life, prosperity, wealth, comfort, and parenting.

India is a developing country that is still battling the problems of poverty and overcrowding, which are the two main characteristics that qualify it as a market for child traffickers operating behind the scenes of international adoption. According to a recent survey, India is third on the list of significant nations that transfer their children for transnational adoption to other nations. It is interesting to learn how child trafficking is carried out in disguise in place of the current rules governing this phenomenon because the diversity of the country results in a number of personal laws governing its residents.

Under the rules of international adoption, any individual or couple may legitimately adopt a child who is a citizen of another nation. A citizen of India who is considering adoption overseas must also meet the standards of that country in addition to the eligibility requirements in India. A network of adoptions, or an adoption itself, is said to have value when it satisfies the requirement of treating each member of the triad fairly and giving them their "due," according to professor D. M. Smolin. Adoption loses its positive attributes and changes into an evil that often hurts the child by victimizing or demeaning them.

Thereby stating that:
"Intercountry adoption is neither an inherent good nor an inherent evil but rather it is a potential or conditional good", meaning that if this is done by following due legal processes and actually stands up for its purpose, it is a potentially good and the moment it turns towards illicit trafficking of children, it becomes an evil which needs to be eradicated as soon as possible.

The Hague Convention safeguards the adopted kid's best interests and prohibits illegitimate or irregular adoptions in order to protect the child and the family at all costs. To do this, it has specified certain roles, responsibilities, and procedures for foreign adoptions. It demands permission by stating that there is no payment or other sort of value involved.

The Convention states that anybody who consents to an adoption, such as natural parents, must also be "duly informed" about the adoption's potential to "result in the termination of the legal link between the child and his or her family of origin."

In order to avoid birth parents being tricked into signing legal documents they do not understand, the Convention was created and ratified the Hague Convention in 2003 and joined the Hague Conference formally in the same time. If an NRI, OCI, or foreign prospective adoptive parent want to adopt a child from India, the Indian laws must be adhered to.

In Re Rasiklal Chhaganlal Mehta, a 1986 case involving a German couple who had converted to Hinduism and planned to adopt an orphan girl and bring her to Germany, the idea of international adoption and its legitimacy were first brought up. Intercountry adoption was determined to be legitimate under Section 9(4) of the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956, and the court outlined the requirements that must be met to obtain permission to do so, including that the foreign country's laws must permit the practise. This is important because many nations, including Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo in Africa, have outright prohibited such adoption from occurring.

On June 28, 1990, the Central Adoption Resource Agency was founded under the Ministry of Women and Child Development to handle domestic and foreign adoption concerns.

 The social or child welfare agency in the foreign country then submits all applications from foreigners looking to adopt Indian children to CARA, who then passes them to one of the recognised social or child welfare agencies in the country. Children who are available for international adoption are listed on CARA's website. Orphans, children who have been abandoned, and kids who have been given to a reputable adoption agency are the three types of kids it considers adoptable.

Foreign couples seeking to adopt children in India must be sponsored by a social organisation in their own nation or a child welfare organisation that has received government approval, according to CARA laws. If there isn't a central authority or authorised foreign adoption agency in that country, the couple should contact the relevant government department or Indian diplomatic mission there. The adoptive parents are required to register with CARA and abide by the rules established by the organisation.

In the case of Smt. Anokha v. State of Rajasthan, an Italian couple and Anokha, the widow of the dead husband who had served as the couple's driver for 20 years, adopted a child from each other. The guardianship in this case was rejected because there was no recognised Italian organisation for child welfare to sponsor it, and because the central Indian government had not issued a "no objection certificate" (NOC).

The Lakshmikant Pandey case was cited by the High Court when approving the adoption because it stated that in situations when children were still living with their birth parents, "the right persons to select whether to transfer their children in adoption to foreign parents is the natural parent."

Numerous social evils, such as child trafficking, hide behind the cover of international adoption. The present intercountry adoption system identifies criminals as unlicensed individuals who regularly kidnap children, whether they are orphans or children abducted by their biological parents, by enticing them with money or threatening them.

The majority of the victims are children who have been abandoned, killed, placed in abhorrent institutions, or who are homeless, and they are exploited for labour or commercial sex by using the adoption and legal systems' formal procedures to carry out child trafficking.

The claim that multiple cases, like Lakshmikant Pandey, have brought attention to this issue is supported by the Delhi High Court's recent order stopping an orphanage in Uttar Pradesh from improperly giving third parties access to a child who was matched for adoption internationally.

What actually makes India such a market? It is the population and poverty, since developing countries like India tries to send more of orphans in adoption to another country in order to provide them with a good life cross-border. But when this does not work out, the child either is left to wander out of post-adoption negligence, abused, or sexually and physically exploited by human trafficking organizations.

The Andhra Pradesh scandals, which occurred between 1995 and 2001 and involved multiple organisations habitually sending out scouts to recruit female youngsters from weak, underprivileged families, adequately demonstrate the presence of this evil.

The children's identities were changed on purpose, and phoney documents were created. These dishonest Indian institutions worked with gullible adoption agencies from various sending nations to pass off a huge number of kidnapped children as "orphans" before they were adopted. In the infamous 2005 ruling, the first criminal conviction in such a scandalous case was granted.

All of these examples demonstrate how children from impoverished families in developing countries are purchased, stolen from, or abducted in order to be sold to adoptive families in wealthy countries, reinforcing claims that adoption is being misrepresented as baby selling. Due to the legal flaws, these baby selling incidents happen frequently and consistently. These unethical adoption practises are not new and have existed for a very long time. The problems with international adoption and child trafficking are systemic and persistent, not singular or occasional.

The 118th Report on Review of Guardianship and Adoption Laws, submitted in Parliament, is concerned about the current paradoxical situation where there is a high demand from parents to adopt children and another where statistical data by CARA shows a declining number of adoptions taking place, hinting towards the illegal child adoption market and trafficking. This is because the number of children taken in inter-country adoption decreased from 628 in 2010 to 417 in 2020-21.

As the number of international adoptions has increased in the country, continual court review has resulted in the creation of several standards and, as a result, legislation specifically managing this occurrence. As a result, the Indian government has added more layers of regulation to the core procedures, building upon the Guardians and Wards Act of 1890 and the HAMA, the personal laws governing the residents.

An international adoption typically doesn't take place until it has received the organisations responsible for the Indian, foreign, CARA, examining, and local adoptions' universal permission. However, there are still ways in which young kids are harmed, trafficked, and forced into prostitution.

Child trafficking is a serious violation of human rights that must be eradicated by society and the law whenever it occurs, especially in voiceless, vulnerable families in impoverished countries, or these kidnapped children would never know the pain of their origins. Only after the legislation, society, and transnational adoption system have all been altered will the conditions be created for intercountry adoption to flourish as a good. Therefore, stricter rules are desperately needed to control the situation, along with attentive measures to stop child abuse.

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