Why Child Adoption is the Answer to some of our Direst Problems

In the last term of my MBA, I had to make a speech on a topic of my choice as a part of the curriculum requirements. I started by listing topics of my interest looking for something which would be able to arouse interest, educate, and perhaps leave a small but prolonged impression on the audience. I zeroed in on the topic of Child Adoption — nothing quite engaging like it for graduating MBA students.  The idea of child adoption had always piqued my interest and, for the speech, I decided to research further about it. What I found left me equally astonished and disheartened.

Today, some of the greatest problems facing us include a widening social, socio-economic and political divide, and rapid degradation of the environment. We’ve been mulling for years over these and, yet, our solutions range from obvious such as burning less coal to ineffective such as discarding plastic straws to borderline insane such as colonising Mars. Somehow, the simple and elegant solution of child adoption is painfully absent from our public discourse. I believe it is time we start looking at child adoption as a high-impact solution to some of our largest concerns.

According to a study by the Oregon State University, having one fewer child has a 20 times greater impact on the environment than adopting a series of environmentally friendly measures for a lifetime. Another major 2017 study concluded that a US family which chooses to have one fewer child reduces its carbon footprint by the same level as 684 teenagers who choose to engage in comprehensive recycling for the rest of their lives. While the exact results may vary on the basis of the methodology used in such studies, they consistently conclude that adding another person to the population is the single largest source of incremental carbon footprint.

And that is just the tip of the iceberg — adoption is an excellent way of preventing someone from falling into a lifetime of possible suffering, hardship, and misery. Foster homes and orphanages, even with the best of intentions, have found themselves incapable of providing a decent quality of life to its children due to lack of sufficient resources — both financial and personnel. Regulatory support remains limited in most countries and these organisations fall upon the charitableness of the society to run their operations. The greatest charity they can receive is for someone to provide a loving and caring home for one of its children.

Having been born and raised in India, I have witnessed first-hand the ill-effects of overpopulation. The problems of massive unemployment, widespread poverty, rising social unrest, stressed institutions, etc., largely emanate from a large and growing population. Every year, India adds an Australia to its population. According to UN projections, India shall overtake China to be the most populated country in the world by 2024. Another study by UNICEF points to almost 30 million abandoned and orphaned children in India — almost equal to the entire population of Malaysia. Even after all this, the adoption rate in the country remains abysmal (and falling) at 3374 in-country adoptions for 2018–19. Social prejudices, lack of procedural awareness, absence of institutionalised care have all added to this low adoption rate. With millions living below the poverty line, many more millions just above it, a dearth of decent livelihood even for the educated (even more jobs would be lost to automation), deteriorating environment, the question we must ask ourselves is — ‘Do we really need to push the population numbers much further?’

Adoption is one of the most eco-friendly, fulfilling, and socially-responsible actions one would undertake in their lifetime. It is the truly ‘Think Globally, Act Locally’ solution to many of the issues with which we are faced. As a society, I believe, it is our responsibility to take care of, and not ignore, the abandoned and the orphaned. We must give the children of this world a fair chance for this world to give us a fair chance.