More Destitute Parents Want to Relinquish Children For Adoption During Pandemic, Mumbai NGO Says

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A daily wager couple in Mumbai pleaded with state-based NGO ‘Snehalaya’ (home of love) to take their one year-old-daughter and give her to a family capable of taking care of her.

The couple who live in a slum in Mumbai‘s Worli have been out of work for the past three months and were facing difficulties in raising their three children.

When the food grains twice provided by the NGO failed to put an end to their misery, they returned for a third time; this time more adamant to give up their youngest one for adoption.

The Founder of the Mumbai-based NGO, Girish Kulkarni, told Sputnik that this is an emerging trend they are witnessing during the period of lockdown.

The shelter house that currently houses more than 300 kids, is seeing a five times surge in requests from daily wager couples urging the organisation to either keep their children in the shelter home, or give them up for adoption. The organisation receives 3-4 such requests every day.

The requests have been made to the adoption arm of ‘Snehalaya’ – Snehankur.

He quoted the daily wager couple as saying, “We don’t see an end to this pandemic. Keeping our children alive is the priority, not keeping them with us. We are ready to sign wherever you want, please take them.”

With total 169,883 COVID-19 cases, Maharashtra remains the worst-hit state by the pandemic in India. Though the unlock has begun in other parts of the country, the lockdown will remain in place in the coastal state until 31 July. This has put immense strain on daily wagers and labourers whose livelihood is threatened due to restricted economic activities.

According to the law, parents cannot relinquish a kid using poverty as an excuse. But the NGO states that it’s better to get the child enrolled formally for adoption than exposing him or her to the risk of being sold or pushed into illegal activities by helpless parents.

“Though a best place for a child is their family, we sometimes have to abide by their requests when we fail to convince them. Majority of these requests are made from districts such as Aurangabad, Ahmednagar, Beed, Nasik, Pune and Solapur,” Girish said.

Number of Abandoned Children Goes Up

While some parents approach ‘Snehalaya’ directly to relinquish their children, others simply abandon them, and the kids are then reported to organisation’s volunteers.

The founder said that the number of abandoned children that they come across is twice as much as before. During the lockdown, the organisation says it has witnessed a record increase in the number of babies abandoned.

“In May, a wailing infant found in a dump yard was reported to the volunteers of the organisation. It belonged to a 16-year-old mother who abandoned it due to poverty. We have taken in nearly 14 babies abandoned in the past three months,” he said, adding that nearly 60 children, including both abandoned babies and relinquished ones, had to be turned down due to various limitations.

“However, we tried to extend all possible support in terms of money and food grains to their families,” Girish stated.

To fall in line with the social distancing norms, the Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) has stayed the process of adoption till 30 June. This has mounted additional financial pressure on the adoption centre, which Girish said is already operating at over 20 percent of their capacity.

The United Nations has predicted that nearly 42-66 million children are at risk of falling into extreme poverty during this pandemic and more children will face exposure to the risk of child labour and trafficking along with the possibility of dropping out of school.

“Authorities will find it difficult to rehabilitate children who are already in Child Care Institutions, because the financial capability of families is likely to worsen in the coming months,” the international organisation said.


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