1st state consultation on child adoption
Eastern Mirror Desk
Dimapur, Aug. 19: Due to ignorance about customary practices when adopting children, and about the Central Adoption Resource Authority (Cara) Regulations Act of 2017, several cases of illegal and random adoptions have happened in the past.
This is a violation of child rights, which is also a matter of grave concern, a recent consultative event in Dimapur highlighted. Illegal adoption also brings many problems to the family besides causing serious implications for the society in the long run. This was the concern raised by the Nagaland NGOs Forum (NNF).
The NNF’s first consultation on child adoption in the Naga society will be held on Tuesday, Aug. 20 at the Tourist Lodge in Dimapur with the anticipation that caregivers and Nagaland government will consider the endeavour on priority.
“Child adoption for Naga society is not just about the adopted child and the (adopting) family but it is also about identity, rights and community life,” the NNF stated.
“As such the special status enjoyed by the people of state of Nagaland under the article 371 (A) becomes very relevant on the issue of child adoption at this present critical juncture.”
The Cara Regulations 2017 and Naga customary practises of child adoption need a thorough deliberation concerning Article 371 (A). Effort are required for finding a way forward for an adoption law for the state of Nagaland, exploring a blending of Naga customary practises, and acknowledging legal implications. Besides, it needs a touch of humanity and morality, the NNF suggested.
In a book “Naga customary practices of child adoption” published by the Child Protection Services of the department of Social Welfare. The publication was initiated and complied by nongovernmental welfare and activist organisation Prodigals’ Home. In the bood, the director of Prodigals’ Home, K Ela raises concerns about the requirement for due deliberation-whether the state follows the Cara Regulations or the customary way; and what will work best for the child, the family, the society and the state.
Ela states that a clearer understanding of proper adoption laws whether through Naga customary practices or the Cara Regulation will prevent the violation of rights of the child due to illegal adoption practices.
Further, the director of Social Welfare T Merangtsungba Aier states in the book that if the govt. of India’s Adoption Regulations of 2017 are in force, the state may not straight away totally give up the ‘traditional way’ and adopt the ministry’s regulations.
It is therefore necessary that the shortcomings and loopholes in the ‘traditional ways of adoption should be immediately identified and addressed for the safety of the child,’ Aier suggests.
In the indigenous perspective of adoption in the Naga context, a research by the editor of Heritage Publishing House, Asangba Tzüdir states in the book that among the Naga tribes there has been no standard procedural code that deal with adoption.
Although there are customary procedures for each Naga tribe there was hardly any legal cover especially when adoption was viewed from the present changing community dynamics.
“The fact that central guidelines are not being implemented makes the case of adoption among the Nagas challenging more problematic. A kind of fear psychosis and issues of social acceptance are clear grounds for a child adopted without following the central guidelines,” Tzüdir states.
“As such most adoption was done quietly through a mutual understanding between the natural and adoptee parents and this does not in any way amount to legal adoption.”
Article 371 (A) and adoption
Tzüdir states that the provisions in Article 371 (A) of the Indian Constitution recognise the people’s cultural indigenousness. Therefore the practice of adoption among the Nagas as part of customary practices was mandated by provisions in the article.
However, he points out the main problem is in not having a uniform code of adoption among the Nagas. Each tribe has its own methods but the melting point is on the larger issues related to identity.
Tzüdir opines further that the Naga society has reached a stage where central adoption policies will not work in a context where adoption is largely governed by traditional customary practices, such as that of the Naga people.
A more pressing concern he states is that traditional customary practices needs a drastic evolution because it finds itself placed in a challenging terrain when it comes to issues of rights and identity. It is more often that customary laws and practices fail to provide justice and legal cover in matters of rights and identity.
What the Nagas need today is for clear adoption guidelines with a blend of legal and cultural features that are in tune with constitutional provisions of Article 371 (A). This is about keeping in mind the cultural diversity of the community besides the legal consequences associated with adoption, he suggests.
Another imperative is that the state govt. needs to adopt a clear policy on child adoption giving due warrant on the legal and cultural implications keeping in mind the legal and cultural limitations.