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Tsunami orphans yet to be adopted 
By Arun Kumar Das/TNN 

New Delhi: The search is on for finding permanent homes for the children who have lost both their parents in the tsunami that hit India on December 26. 
According to data available with the Social Justice and Empowerment Ministry, there are 529 children who have become orphans due to this disaster. Five coastal states were hit. 

“Though these orphans are currently the responsibility of the respective state governments and Union territories, we are constantly monitoring their well-being,’’ says a senior official of the ministry. “While most are staying in state- run homes, orphanages and community centres under the close supervision of district authorities, the government is concerned about their future. There is no dearth of government and non-government agencies extending help. But at the same time, a permanent solution in the form of adoption has to be considered. The Central Adoption Resource Agency (CARA) is looking into the matter.’’ 

There has been an overwhelming response from NRI couples and foreigners seeking adoption of these children but the government’s first preference is domestic adoption. 

Renuka Chidambaram, secretary, CARA, says, “The adoption procedure is on, but till date not a single case of adoption has been allowed as we have to be extra cautious. We have visited each camp in these states to ensure that children do not land up in beggar gangs or into trafficking. It is important to ensure they are not taken away by unscrupulous people.’’ 

In the beginning it was chaotic and difficult to ascertain the exact number of children who had lost both parents. Many were later found by their father or mother in the relief camps. “After finding the exact number of orphans, we had to ascertain from their extended families and communities whether they could be given away for adoption,’’ says Chidambaram. 

Initially, many panchayats and communities were averse to giving the orphans away for adoption. But later, many reconciled to the fact that a permanent solution had to be worked out. “We have laid down a proper documentation and verification process before giving away any child for adoption; preferences are given to people from the same community and district. Only after exhausting all our domestic resources, will the children be allowed to be adopted by those living abroad.’’