A 14-year boy from north Delhi lost both his parents to COVID-19. An NGO worker who was taking care of him said: “The boy could not speak for hours. He could not eat food properly. He was handed over to his immediate relatives.”
In another case, the Delhi Police rescued two siblings who were allegedly planning to end their lives after their parents died of COVID-19 last week. As India struggles with the second wave of the pandemic, children are suffering without adequate care and loving support.
They are losing parents and elders due to the unavailability of proper healthcare in hospitals across the country. In many of these cases, relatives are given first preference to adopt them, but there are many kids who don’t have any immediate family.
Anurag Kundu, chairman, Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights (DCPCR), said there are many reports of children being left alone following the death or hospitalisation of both parents.
“There were at least two cases where the children were left to fend for themselves. We have shifted these children to a shelter home in Delhi. We will try to find their relatives and if we fail to find their relatives, we will find families who can look after them and give them a better future,” Kundu said.
Flooded by Adoption Requests
The DCPCR is flooded with requests for adopting children who lost their parents to COVID-19. But it has urged people not to fall for misinformation floating on social media and advised interested families to follow due legal process to initiate the adoption process.
Kundu tweeted: “Do not believe anyone who says he/she can give you a child for adoption. They are either lying or misleading or simply involved in illegal practices. Do reach out to your lawyer friends for advice.”
He also wrote to the Delhi Police commissioner requesting police intervention in cases where children are offered for adoption based on social media reports, in complete violation of laws. He requested the police to help raise awareness about the legal provisions.
The National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) also wrote to states and Union territories on Monday, urging them to inform child protection authorities about children who have lost both parents due to COVID-19.
“The commission has been made aware of instances where it has been seen that many NGOs are advertising about the children who have become orphaned after losing both their parents to COVID-19,” NCPCR chairperson Priyank Kanoongo said in a letter addressed to chief secretaries.
“Children have been orphaned overnight, lost their parents, some are still waiting for them to come home. We have seen the mass cremations, but what of the children they left behind so suddenly? These kids are in immediate need of trauma, grief counselling and long-term care. We must not leave them behind. We must hold their hand,” said Sonal Kapoor, founder director, Protsahan India Foundation.
If you know any child who has lost a parent and/or is struggling to support them because of illness in Delhi, call DCPCR @ +91-9311551393; Protsahan NGO: 9540781011
Eligibility criteria to adopt a child: