Why Writing a Will for appointing a guardian for your child is very Important- As soon as one becomes a Parent.
As the second wave of COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc across India with more than 400,000 cases being reported daily in the country, thousands of families have lost their kin to the deadly virus.
While experts suggest that the mortality rate in the second wave is similar to last year’s wave, data shared by the Indian government clearly shows that the ratio of young adults, in the 30 to 40 age group, dying of the disease is higher than the first wave. This means there are more young children losing their parents and some have been left totally alone as their entire immediate family has succumbed to the virus.
While most of the time one parent has succumbed to the virus and other remains hospitalized, there are also instances where children of single mothers became orphans. Though these kids may sometimes be taken care of by their relatives or distant family, there needs to be a behavioral check on the caretakers as the emotional situation of these children is very sensitive at the moment. The counselling of such children is very delicate as they are in a very fragile emotional state and talking to them about these traumatic events resurfaces them.
Lets see a small instance of what is happening (names changed to secure identity).
In a rural village in north India, Shanta Devi received a call. It was a young girl claiming to be a member of a child rights NGO, asking for financial help for a 12-year-old girl who had lost everyone to COVID-19 in Delhi.
Shanta, upon hearing the story says that she transferred a decent amount of money for the child. They asked for an online payment and assured that it would be used for the child’s nutrition.
“After I tried calling them to know about the condition of the child the next day, I realized they had blocked my number. That’s when I understood that I have been duped,” she says while complaining that it was a crisis in the country at this time and filing a police complaint against these people would hardly bring any results.
Meanwhile, Indian Government said that no organization or individual is officially authorized to take custody of children whose guardians have died from the pandemic unless authorized by the government. They said that they have established a dedicated child helpline number 1098 for the emergency messages about children who have lost their families COVID. They said that it was not legal for someone to transfer custody of an orphan child of anyone else.
For instance, a 16-year-old girl in Lucknow’s Alambagh lost her parents, younger brother and grandmother in 10 days between April 22 and May 2 to the pandemic, while her elder brother was yet to recover from Covid infection. The girl was left abandoned after the tragedy and was later shifted to her relative’s place. In another case, three infants were found in the past one week after being abandoned by two families in Hardoi and Barabanki. The two infants in Hardoi were handed over to Child Line.
Social media posts appealing for adoption of kids allegedly orphaned during the Covid-19 pandemic may be a trick played out by child trafficking gangs that generally get activated during such calamities, warned UP police officials and child rights activists. The authorities have not only launched a probe into such posts but also begun gathering data on children actually orphaned by the pandemic.
Several children in the State lost parents to the pandemic, and their relatives, who might not be fully aware of the adoption process, are falling prey to some messages circulating on the social media. "The persons who are sharing these messages may be doing it with good intentions, but child traffickers can easily take advantage of this situation. The kids might get sold for adoption, begging, child labour, flesh trade or even organ transplant. Enough awareness is lacking in the society on the legal system with regard to adoption," says Andrew.
A senior child psychologist and behavioral consultant based in India, says that in today’s situation it has become all too common that children are confronted with the death of their parents. She adds that parentally bereft children in the pandemic may face unique challenges and the social isolation, institutional strain, and economic struggles caused by the pandemic might make them feel aloof and unsupported.
In nuclear families where children are not very close to other family members. The situation is completely unprecedented. It is very difficult to describe what the child will be going through. Teenagers will be in denial and grief. They behave abnormally and go numb. If the child has also tested positive, even relatives wouldn’t come closer. Suddenly the child will feel he or she is alone in this world and may slip into anxiety and depression. Immediate moral and psychological help with regular long time follow up is very necessary for such children.
It’s been over 30 years since the Juvenile Justice Act was formulated and this constitutes the children adoption process. Yet, the authorities have failed to educate citizens about this Act or the 1098 childline, which works along with government agencies like Social Defense, Child Welfare Committee, Social Welfare, and Juvenile Justice Board, among many others. The adoptions are regulated through the Central Adoption Research Agency (CARA).
All said, by now, we as parents should gather our thoughts about the following:
As soon as we become parents, we are responsible for the following:
In case of loss of one parent , the other parent is the natural legal guardian.
In case of loss of both the parents, there can be two possible situations:
1)The parents DID NOT have a WILL and had not appointed a legal guardian. The following may be the possibilities:
From the above, I hope as parents you will be able to comprehend, decide and take action. In this pandemic we read a lot of news of orphaned kids but would never think this could be a reality in any of our lives. PAUSE, THINK, TAKE ACTION.
Our team at DiL SE Will is striving hard to bring awareness about the importance of making Will in India. We are way in making all possible effort to make the task of Will creation easy and a hands on job. Make it your priority, your “to do” for 2021.
It is no more a luxury. It is a necessity.
Disclaimer- This blog is informative in nature and created for pro bono purpose , it is not a legal advice.
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