Reimagining Adoption

Loading Adoptions 300% Faster – It pays off to say “I do”

CARA announced a change in its child referral policy w.e.f. May 01, 2017 for parents registered for Adoption. The new policy is a move that will accelerate child referrals and shorten the wait period for parents. Here is how.

Under the existing provisions, a parent who was registered with CARA was eligible for getting up to 3 profiles of children in one or more referrals. Further, the referrals were system generated based on the parent’s preference for a certain category of children, and their availability. For example, if there were 100 parents who had opted for a male child in the 0-2 years age group from Delhi, they would be referred a child, according to their seniority, as and when children meeting the criterion would become available. If there were 92 boys in the 0-2 years age group available for adoption in Delhi, the top 30 parents would receive profiles for 3 children each, in their first referral and the 31st parent would get a profile for 2 children – summing up the 92 profiles. So, in this cycle, only 31 parents out of 100 would receive a referral.

These children would then wait for acceptance or release depending upon the action of these 31 parents – before they could be referred to the next set of parents, in the next cycle. The remaining parents would have to wait until one or more of these children became available – post matching and acceptance. Each child could be blocked for 22 days before it could be referred to the next set of parents.

Under the new guideline, if there are 92 children available, 92 senior most parents, of the 100 parents registered in Delhi, would get a profile of 1 child, thereby accelerating the child referral 3 times faster! The parents would be required to reserve or not reserve this profile. Since the profile is blocked with this group of parents only for 48 hours, it is immediately available for referral to the next set of parents, after 48 hours, reducing the wait for the child. If a parent does not reserve this child, they will get the next referral only after 90 days. They can repeat this cycle only thrice. Before they get relegated to the bottom of the wait list for not   accepting any child even in 3 referrals. This is a win-win situation for the child and the parent, and adoption eco-system as a whole.

In the old system, when the profile of a child “X” (who was 1 year 2 months old) was submitted as a group of 3 profiles, parents willingly or unwillingly ended up “comparing” X across the three profiles. X would almost always “not get reserved” when grouped with the profile of a 6 month child or a 8 month old child. And if X was the “oldest” child, X would end up not being reserved even after multiple cycles – increasing the wait for the child. The comparison would happen not only for the age, parents would often not accept the child from a given State or Agency, if they perceived a better “option” was available to them, out of the three profiles. Unfortunately, this system encouraged “choosing and picking” children, and unnecessary comparison of a child against its peers – instead of assessing the child on its own identity and merit. As a result, many children would wait far longer for adoption, as parents continued to compare them across group of 3 profiles available to them. And so would the parents, until the senior most parents were “serviced” in the system. With the new policy, as a child gets referred, parents have to make a decision, based on the child’s own status, and not extraneous comparisons – which are often irrelevant. For, what comparison could exist between a 8 month old boy from Karnataka, 1 year old girl from Maharashtra and a 1 year 3 month old girl from Andhra, if the parent opted for a 0-2 year child of any gender from anywhere in India.

The benefit for parents is even greater in the new system. Earlier only the top 31 parents out of 100 would receive a referral. Remaining 69 would have to wait until the parents above them in the seniority completed their 3 referrals. In the new regime 92 out of 100 parents would receive their first referral in the first cycle itself – a jump of 300%. Past experience confirms that many parents who have waited for adoption for years, before and after registering with CARA undergo a unique mix of emotions on getting their first referral. Many would simply adopt the first child they are referred. Many would actually not even seek a “choice” or another set of profile. That CARA has been generous in the past by allowing up to six  profiles until 2015, and even a choice of 3 profiles, across gender, age group and State to adopt from – has to be acknowledged as a wide range of choice to parents. However, such choices have only slowed down the adoption rate, and inadvertently sustained a culture of “choosing the best in a group” attitude among the parents – at the cost of their own wait in getting a referral.

Now 92 parents getting a profile, will move the queue 3 times faster. Many of these parents will hopefully accept the child referred to them, and the child is also not subject to unnecessary comparison that is hardly logical, relevant or desirable.

True, there may remain a set of parents who may wish to seek more profiles. And their eligibility to get more profiles is guaranteed. But they need to understand that this is more of a privilege than a right – and that it comes at a price. They should wait for a period of 90 days, before exercising that choice. This period is required to ensure that many more parents, who have been waiting below them, do not continue to wait – even after the first set of parents have been given at least 1 profile. The wait for 90 days will also shift the part responsibility of the “total wait in adoption” to the parent – as it is the parents who are seeking a choice, who have to wait longer, and the system automatically starts rewarding the parent willing to accept the first child referred. In the new method CARA can no longer be singularly blamed for a long wait, as the first referral may become available as early as 6-9 months. It is up to the parent to accept the first referral or wait for the next. The parent is responsible for the additional wait of 6 months, if they really want to see 3 profiles before they decide. Effective counselling can take care of this “need” as well. For parents who are ready and willing to accept their first referral – the wait would reduce from 12-14 months down to 6-7 months, as 3 times faster referrals will happen – with 1 profile sent to each eligible parent.

Parents seeking more than 1 profile will now have to rethink if it is really worth adding to their wait, if they want to forego the first profile referred to them. Their decision to accept or forego the first referral would now be more objective than subjective. It will be driven by their real need, rather than whims or fancies. At the minimum the new guidelines ensure that those set of parents who “want a choice” will not hold up those who “may not seek one”. Rationally speaking, no one “needs” a choice. It is a human sentiment that needs to be rationalized, for own collective good.

A mention needs to be made about the acceptance of the profile also. As each profile has been “quality controlled” by way of diligent health check, medical examination report and child report uploaded in CARINGS, parents actually have no real ground not to accept any referral on any demonstrable parameter. Most parents would not accept a child only “in-comparison” to other profiles. The new system will help educate and sensitize parents in accepting the child they are referred – so long as it meets their basic criterion of age, gender and demography. For more guidance on how to accept the first child referred, please refer to our blog on “Accepting the First child you are referred in Adoption”.

The latest move by CARA in dispersing the profiles one at a time needs a standing ovation for its equitable child-centric approach, faster opportunity to adopt, rewarding parents with a higher readiness to adopt and lending an opportunity to others to seek counselling or prepare themselves better during the 90 day wait period, before they get their next opportunity.

Finally, it pays off to say “I do” than to ask for another TWO!