Yangyel Lhaden

As the nodal agency for the protection of women and children, the National Commission for Women and Children (NCWC) has facilitated adoption and alternative care for 180 children in the country since its establishment.

Officials said the commission facilitated foster care for 18 children and kinship care for eight children, which is mainly with family members and relatives.

“We facilitated domestic adoption for 136 children and inter-country adoption for 18 children,” an official said. “NCWC deals with issues pertaining to the violation of the rights of women and children, such as children in difficult circumstances, children in conflict with the law, gender-based violence, women in difficult circumstances, and adoption and alternative care.”

According to the official, NCWC facilitates adoptions of children as per the Adoption Act. “We facilitate alternative care for children after accessing and determining suitable care providers.”

He explained that the Act mandates that parents who wish to adopt children must be 30 years old or more, and the age gap between the child and the adopting parent should be a minimum of 15 years. “We review carefully while facilitating alternative care and adoption to ensure the child is placed in good hands and for the overall welfare and in the best interest of the child.”

He said they follow up until the child reaches 18 years of age to ensure he or she is growing well and is well taken care of.

The officials said that in most cases, mothers who want to give their child up for adoption come to them after identifying the parents. “In cases where adopting parents are not identified, we screen for suitable adopting parents from the list we maintain.”

He also said in cases where adoption is not possible, NCWC arranges alternative care for children such as kinship and foster care for the child to grow up in a family environment with love and care.

Meanwhile, during the pandemic, NCWC facilities online registration and submission of documents from interested applicants for adoption, foster care, and kinship through email and NCWC’s mobile application.

The commission also addresses issues related to unwanted and unplanned pregnancies.

During the lockdown between January 16 and February 8, they received 14 calls pertaining to unwanted and unplanned pregnancies.

The officials said they received distress calls from couples about unplanned pregnancies. “We provided psychosocial support.”

He also said that they told women with unwanted pregnancies about services available for them along with psychosocial support. “We also provided counselling, psychosocial support, shelter services in collaboration with relevant agencies, and also legal advice and guidance including legal representation based on our capability to process the case before the court.”

According to the official, since issues confronting women and children are intersectional, and require a multi-sectoral approach from all the relevant agencies. “Women with unwanted pregnancies could seek NCWC’s support for adoption, alternative care such as kinship and foster care, and facilitation of livelihood and skill-building programmes.”

An individual can contact NCWC’s toll-free number 1098 for required services.