TO THE HONORABLE PRIME MINISTER OF INDIA Background : There are approximately 390 million children in our country, of which an estimated 12 million are orphans. The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child recognizes that "the child, for the full and harmonious development of his or her personality, should grow up in a family environment, in an atmosphere of happiness, love and understanding," The National Charter for Children 2003 states that "Every child has the right to a family" and "The State shall undertake measures to ensure that children without families are either placed for adoption, preferably intra-country adoption, or foster care or any other family substitute services." Despite these statements of policy and intent, it is tragic that the number of legal adoptions in the country in 2008 was 2990*, a number that is not only abysmal but which has declined in the last 8 years! The budget allocated to Central Adoption Resource Agency (CARA) by the Ministry of Women and Child Development for the year 2008-9 is Rs 4 crores from an overall budget of Rs 7236 crores. Less than one tenth of one percent!! The story at the state level would not be any different. This is really ironical since adoption involves (to the government) a fraction of the cost compared to rehabilitating a child in an orphanage. Unfortunately, today, adoption is not encouraged but made into an obstacle race. The government mindset is "licensing and controlâ" rather than "facilitation" and "best interest of the child". Children languish in orphanages instead of being moved into adoption. Adoption processes take too long and lack transparency. Laws and guidelines require a revamp. Ministry of WCD, Police, judiciary and state departments need focus and awareness on adoption issues. The net result of the lack of focus and action is that thousands of children, if not millions, are languishing in orphanages at best and most often left to fend for themselves. They are deprived of holistic development and condemned to a sub-optimal life. (* source CARA web site. Does not include adoptions by agencies recognized by state governments) :::PETITION::: We, as concerned citizens, petition you to : > Set up a task force headed by a Member of the Planning Commission to study the entire issue around adoption and foster care and come up with a holistic revamp of policy and laws. > Allocate adequate funds and resources to promote and facilitate adoption and foster parenting. > Deliver on the promise of your government "Every child has the right to a family". You have less than 1700 days left of this government to make a difference to this vital but neglected area. We request your urgent and decisive intervention.