At a time when the girl child ratio is declining in many states, childless couples are showing more interest in adopting a girl then a boy in Odisha.
This was reflected in the children's adoption data of the past five years (2017 to 2021). The data reveals that a total of 869 children from Odisha have been adopted by couples from Odisha, outside the state and also foreign countries.
As many as 581 female children from Odisha have been adopted by Indian and foreign couples during the five years. However, the number of adopted male children stood at 288, which is less than half of the female children adopted during the period.
Out of 869 children, 704 were adopted by couples in India while 165 children were adopted by foreigners between 2017 and 2021.
While Indian couples have adopted 462 girl children and 242 male children from 24 out of 30 districts of Odisha, foreigners too adopted more girl children (119) then boys (46) from 17 districts.
The highest number of 119 children have been adopted from tribal-dominated Sundergarh district. The other districts registering a good number of adoptions include Keonjhar, Cuttack and Khurda.
Social activist Namrata Chadha said, "we are still living in a gender-biased society. Parents prefer a boy child then a girl because he may help them in their old age."
In many instances, it has come to notice that people abandoned the girl child in garbage, roads, etc because they wanted a boy. These girls have been brought to child care homes and later adopted by single parents. That's why there are more adopted girls, said Chadha.
When contacted, a senior official from the State Adoption Resource Agency (SARA) said both male and female children are being adopted. However, prospective adoptive couples are more interested in adopting a female than a male, he said, adding that a few people have come forward to adopt children with special needs.
Both Non-Resident Indians and overseas Indians have adopted children from Odisha. Basically, people from countries like the US, Canada, France, Italy, Spain and the UK, have adopted these children from the eastern state.
Informing about the protection of the adopted children especially the girls, the official said detailed guidelines are there about the eligibility criteria for adoption like a single male cannot adopt a girl child.
A proper mechanism has been put in place at the state and national levels for monitoring of adopted children in India, he said.
Besides, Indian diplomats and foreign adoption agencies are supervising the adoption process and monitoring the children in foreign countries, stated the official.