Orphanages in India run by the Missionaries of Charity have decided to close their doors in light of new adoption guidelines that the sisters say violate their ideological and religious views. Sister Amala, who serves at Nirmala Shishu Bhawan, a New Delhi orphanage run by the Missionaries of Charity, explained the decision. “The new guidelines hurt our conscience. They are certainly not for religious people like us,” she said, according to NPR. The new protocol issued by the Ministry of Women and Child Development allows single, divorced, and separated individuals to participate in adoption services from the Missionaries of Charity, who have a policy of only placing children with a married mother and father. “Our rules only allow married couples to adopt,” Sister Amala explained, saying the sisters are concerned about the moral upbringing of the children who are adopted by single individuals, rather than a mother and a father. Under the new law, prospective parents will now register online through the Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA), which will allow single, separated or divorced individuals to participate in registered adoption services throughout India. The new guidelines are aimed at boosting the number of adoptions within India, where the adoption process is notoriously complex. According to the Ministry of Women and Children Development, opening adoption services to a wider group of prospective parents will help increase adoptions within the country. Indian Women and Child Development Minister, Maneka Gandhi, commented on the situation at a local conference, saying that “we are trying to persuade them, they are good people,” but that the Missionaries of Charity did “not want to come under a uniform secular agenda.” Instead, the sisters opted to seek de-recognition from CARA, believing the new rules to contradict natural law. So far, over a dozen orphanages run by the Missionaries of Charity have ceased adoption services over the past two months. “It is not a religious rule but a human rule,” Sister Amala said, according to the Catholic Herald. “Children need both parents, male and female. That is only natural, isn't it?” In addition to allowing single individuals to adopt, the new guidelines will also include a choice in which child is adopted, giving prospective parents the ability to pick one of six different children at the orphanage. This option was not available previously, as the Missionaries of Charity placed the orphaned children with their adoptive families based on the parents' background, ethnicity, and best overall match. “Parents are not allowed a choice, even if the child has a deformity. We cannot allow parents one option out of six to adopt children,” Sister Amala stated, according to The Indian Express. “When a woman gives birth to a baby, is she allowed a choice? She gets what God gifts to her,” she continued, saying that it should be no different for adoptive parents. The Missionaries of Charity, who were founded by Mother Teresa, will continue their care for the poor and abandoned in India. NPR reported that instead of providing adoption services, the sisters will turn to special needs children within the country who are still orphaned.
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