SMRITI GUPTA, ADOPTION ACTIVIST AND COUNSELLOR
Continuing our theme for this week, Padme connected us with Smriti Gupta who is an Adoption Activitist and Counsellor. Through an informative Q&A session, Smriti sheds light on an aspect of adoption that is much ignored or rather, avoided. Yes, we are talking about Special needs adoption.
What is special needs adoption?
The adoption process in India puts children into two categories — normal and special needs — where special needs category is the catch-all for all children who may have some medical need. This need could be minor or correctable, or something that can be easily managed with no bearing on the quality of life, or something that may require extra resources for the child. Essentially, it’s a wide range, which means more than 60% of adoptable children fall into the special needs category.
When a prospective parent chooses to adopt a child from the special needs category, it’s called a special needs adoption.
Are Indian parents open to special needs adoption?
Very few Indian parents are open to special needs adoption. Prospective adoptive parents spend years waiting for a child from the normal category, but they won’t even look at the special needs category where children are immediately available for adoption. We need people, especially those interested in adoption, to have an open child-centric mindset for more special need adoptions to happen.
What are some of the factors that hamper the decision making process?
I think there are largely two factors that hamper adoption of children with special needs.
First, many Indians have a very myopic view of what constitutes a perfect life, and a standardised child in terms of looks, abilities, habits etc. is part of that view. People are fearful that any deviation from this myopic view will upend their lives. Once we start viewing life more broadly and stop caring about others’ perceptions, then we create that mental space that allows us accept all children, including children with special needs.
Second, there is a huge lack of awareness when it comes to special needs adoption. People don’t know what it means, how they will handle it, and they don’t have any examples in their social circle. My older daughter’s special need requires her to wear corrective boots and go for physiotherapy sessions. When she came home at the age of three and half years, it took us a few weeks to get a diagnosis for her and put an action plan in place for her to get better. Handling her special need is more predictable and manageable than getting my kids ready for school everyday! She may not run or jump as seamlessly as her classmates, but she is an amazingly kind and intelligent kid with an infectious laugh. Indians need to become aware that special need only means that your child will have her or his unique life, just like every child.
What are some process related concerns in domestic and international adoptions?
Overall, the adoption process itself is fast and transparent when it comes to special needs adoption. But one challenge is that many children’s profiles lack details since the shelters and adoption agencies are either not trained or do not understand that a detailed profile will help a child get adopted sooner. This needs to change urgently for more children to find their families.
Adoption Activist and counsellor
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