Newborn Care

ADOPTION: Private Contracts Vs The Legal System?
Contributed by Sunil K. Arora

Having worked in adoption for 7 years now, I get cold and worried whenever I hear of cases where the prospective adoptive parents want to contact the birth mother directly or even give money to a parent to have a child for them. 

In circumstances such as these, I always wonder if the people who are considering this kind of a measure have given serious thought to how this could turn out.  At the end of the day after having put in thousands of rupees or dollars to get through the process, endless time and also suffering the hardship from the emotional waves which you are subjected to every minute - finally, what it the result?

I have heard of a number of such cases in my work in this field but there was one case, which I came across personally. The family in question had opted to enter into a private contract directly with a mother, who was paid a good amount. They engaged a lawyer to help them through the process, who made them promises and charged them a heavy fee in advance, but turned out to be nothing other than a money eating bug.

As expected they put everything down on paper and then went to the passport office to get a passport. There the family got a shock of their lives when the passport office told them that they were unable to issue the passport as according to Indian Laws the child was not legally theirs despite the lengthy procedure.  Finally what did happen, I feel sorry to say, was that the family returned to their residential country without the child who still remains legally bound to the biological mother.* 

There are a number of important points which must be considered with regard to a private contact such as this one which will effect the family, including:

  1. When you directly enter into a contract with any person who wants to give up his/her child, you lose the advantage of anonymity as both parties have to reveal their identities. If that person is giving up his/her child for money, then you are asking for trouble. Similarly, the party wanting to adopt or their intermediaries can also harass the person who is giving up his/her child.
  2. All the written agreements between such parties do not hold any legal value.
  3. If the prospective parents are living in a different country and want to take this child to this country, e.g. U.S.A., this child does not qualify as an abandoned child according the INS laws.
  4. In private contracts you do not get a court order and other necessary documents which will help you to get a passport and facilitate the process to take the child to your country.
  5. To make a passport for the adopted child, you will have to put the names of his/her biological parents on the documents. Thus, his/her passport will have the name of the biological parents.
  6. What about the medical tests like HIV & Hepatitis B ?
  7. Letís not forget that there have been cases in the USA following contracts such as these where children were taken physically from the homes of their adoptive families and returned to their birth mothers. 
The above are just a few of the points which need to be noted and seriously considered when such a course of action is being considered by a prospective adoptive family. Below is a list of points that outline the advantages of the legal process in adoptive procedure:
  1. Your identity is completely protected.  Your name will never be told to the biological parent and vice versa.  The law gives enough time to the biological parent to think over the decision through the adoption agency and then places the child in adoption.
  2. You get all legal documents. The agency will apply for the passport and gives you legal documents of the child, which will help you in getting the visa for the child. 
  3. You get all test reports of the child like HIV, Hepatitis B, blood reports etc. before you agree to the adoption of the child and sign the child documents.
  4. Once adopted through the legal process, the child is always yours. No one can take your child away from you.  
You are doing a beautiful thing by adopting a child and by the end of it when the child is with you, I am sure that you want to be HAPPY and NOT afraid that your child may be taken away from you at any time.

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