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India has formally been a partner country for intercountry adoption to the UK since 2011. The Special Programme IAC runs has resonated strongly with British Indians choosing to adopt from their country of heritage. For these reasons it remains one of our most popular programmes at IAC, with around 30 applications each year. The programme was set up by our founder, Gill Haworth OBE, who over the years developed a very strong, personal connection with the country. For some time now the number of kinship adoptions at IAC has also been increasing and these now account for 10% of all our applications. These are usually in response to children having been left orphaned and in need of long term care. Kinship adoptions are classified as applications from adults related to the children they wish to adopt. At present intercountry adoption remains the only route available to such children to enable them to join their families in the UK. Prospective kinship carers are therefore subject to the same costs and process as all prospective intercountry adopters. As there is no government funding for intercountry adoption, the costs can be upwards of £25,000. For families who have not been expecting to care for related children, the costs can often be a barrier to even applying, thus leaving children vulnerable.
India remains in the midst of the aftermath of its Covid crisis. The death toll is still high in some regions and unfortunately the vaccine has only recently been offered without charge, meaning many are still unprotected. IAC is now receiving an increased number of enquiries from British Nationals and Non-Resident Indians (NRI) settled in the UK, who are relatives of orphaned Indian children and need to adopt them. The situation is urgent as these children are all in temporary care and at huge risk of exploitation and sickness themselves. Alongside this they are also grieving the loss of their parents and other relatives.
IAC believes that these children belong with their relatives and has therefore taken the step of creating the Covid Kinship Bursary Fund. As a charity we do not have the funds to directly support kinship applications so we are now asking for donations at a time when affected children and families need our support the most. Whilst we are actively lobbying for change for kinship carers even needing to adopt such children, the need for support is right now and these children cannot wait.
Our CEO, Satwinder Sandhu, himself of Indian heritage says, " We have all been affected by this pandemic, but the ongoing matter of children orphaned in India is heart breaking. The families calling our team are in deep distress and as an organisation serving the world's most vulnerable children we know every day now counts, to ensure children are brought to the safe and loving homes of family members in the UK as quickly as possible. The families we are talking about are not wealthy and so our response is to set up this very important bursary so that finance does not stand in the way of the right thing happening for these children. Recently I was in touch with a family who have two children of their own here in the UK and now an orphaned niece and nephew in India both under the age of 10. They are representative of what is happening and we expect these cases to grow for many months to come, and not just from India. We therefore urge anyone and everyone to support this appeal."
IAC is asking for donations to be made to support kinship applications. All monies collected will be pooled with donations to the Gill Haworth Fund, which was set up when Gill stepped down as our CEO in 2019, as she retired. Donations will go to assist those families affected by the pandemic and needing to adopt related children from abroad. We will also use these pooled funds to support the families on their return to the UK because the losses of family, home and country that these children will have experienced will be difficult to overcome. Please therefore give what you can. Donations can be made securely through this link and gift aided. No amount is too small and all funds will go directly to changing the lives of these vulnerable children.
Thank you for helping IAC to help the world's most vulnerable children.