Soon the consent of a child above five years of age will play a decisive role in the adoption of siblings; it is a significant development in the adoption pool of the Child Adoption Resource Authority (CARA). It could be sought before separating him or her from the sibling to enable adoption. This will be a break from the current position wherein siblings are adopted together by a prospective parent. The Juvenile Justice Act 2015 too prescribes that all efforts must be made to keep siblings together, unless it is in the best interest of the child. However, it has been clarified that the change being made will be a decision on a case-to-case basis and siblings will not be split as a norm. A detailed assessment by the Child Welfare Committee and CARA will determine if the siblings are to be separated even after a child agrees for adoption.
There are over 80 sets of siblings accounting for 176 children in CARA’s adoption pool at present. In keeping with the JJ Act, CARA has been placing siblings with the same family except in rare cases. “But this will now be changed,” women and child development minister Maneka Gandhi said. While children above five will have to give consent, CARA will assess the best interest in consultation with other stakeholders in case of younger ones, an official explained. Gandhi justified the decision by citing a prospective parent’s complaint.
“The woman was told she can’t have a child as it was a sibling. Now we have changed that to say that if it is a child above five, we’ll do what the child wants.”
By- Nikita Goel, Convenor, Student Reporter Committee, INBA