Government collaboration to benefit children in need: Sr Prema

The Missionaries of Charity had stopped giving children in adoption in 2015

By Matters India Reporter

Kolkata, Nov. 2, 2019: All homes for children managed by the Missionaries of Charity in India will soon complete government registration as part of its efforts to serve the poorest of the poor, the congregation’s superior general said on November 2.

Sister Mary Prema Pierick said she had met federal Minister for Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi on October 29 where the two discussed various matters regarding the homes for children managed by the Kolkata-based congregation in India.

“We pray that the collaboration between the Missionaries of Charity … and the ministry will serve for the good of God’s children in need of love and care,” said a press release issued by Sister Prema, as she is popularly known.

The head of the world renowned congregation started by Saint Teresa of Kolkata clarified the meeting was held in New Delhi “at the request of the minister.”

The German nun, the second successor of Mother Teresa, said the minister had expressed her appreciation for the “good works” of the congregation and sought Sister Prema’s collaboration with the ministry to register all child care institutions of the congregation under the Juvenile Justice Act of 2015.

The minister also wants the institutions to link with the specialized adoption agencies legally that are legally free to give children in adoption.

Sister Prema said she informed the minister that the majority of their homes for children were already registered under the act and the remaining homes are in the process of completing the registration formalities.

The 65-year-old nun also agreed to link their homes to nearby agencies as stipulated by the second graph of the act’s 66th section.

The act with 112 sections, passed in parliament amid intense controversy and protest by child rights fraternity, aims to streamline adoption procedures for orphan, abandoned and surrendered children.

The act has a separate chapter on adoption giving detailed provisions for giving children in adoption and punishments for noncompliance. It provides timelines for both in-country and inter-country adoption including declaring a child legally free for adoption.

The three-part section 66 says all institutions registered under the act but not recognized as specialized adoption agencies should ensure all children under their care are reported, produced and declared legally free for adoption by a government appointed committee.

In October 2015, the congregation had stopped putting children up for adoption after the government guidelines stripped adoption centers of the right to approve or reject the prospective adoptive parents.

The congregation said it was “against our faith” to give children up for adoption by single parents. The congregation had started giving children in adoptions in India five decades ago but never to any by single parent.

Gandhi then said the Missionaries of Charity had refused to comply with the adoption guidelines, leaving the government with no option but to derecognize their registered homes as adoption centers.

Sister Prema’s latest meeting with the minister took place more than three months after the Indian government ordered the inspection of all the orphanages and children’s care homes the order managed in India.

The congregation ran into a controversy after one of their nuns in Ranchi, Jharkhand, was arrested on charges of trafficking in newborn babies.

Sister Koshleniea, who ran a children’s home, and an employee of the facility, Anima Indwar, had allegedly “sold” a newborn to a family in Uttar Pradesh for 120,000 rupees.

Sister Prema had then said that her congregation would investigate something that “goes against our moral convictions,” and that they would take steps to prevent anything like this happening in the future.

However, on July 16 Gandhi asked all state governments for immediate inspection of all child care homes run by Missionaries of Charity all over the country.

The minister’s move was an apparent attempt to stop child trafficking and illegal adoptions that reportedly led to the disappearance of more than 100,000 children din India.

People such as West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee condemned the crackdown on the Missionaries of Charity organizations. She said the Bharatiya Janata Party that heads the federal coalition government wanted to spare no one.

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