MUMBAI, India — Mother Teresa was a tireless advocate of the unborn child, and one of her key strategies was to fight abortions with adoptions. Yet in India today, the Missionaries of Charity order she founded has suspended its adoption services for more than a year over objections to the country’s new adoption rules.
According to Veerendra Mishra, an official of the India’s Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA), there are two main points of tension.
First, the Missionaries of Charity have a policy of discouraging adoption by single parents, and second, they also do not generally permit adoption by couples who have earlier gone through a divorce.
Because both sorts of adoptions are permitted under new guidelines issued by CARA, the government has effectively prohibited the Missionaries of Charity from performing its previous work.
In a statement, the Missionaries of Charity said, “If we were to continue with the work set up by Mother Teresa, complying with all the provisions would be very difficult for us.”
Since August of 2015, the order closed down all of its more than 15 adoption agencies around the country.
“The new guidelines hurt our conscience,” said Sister Bressila, a member of the Missionaries of Charity, in a conversation with Crux.
“We stopped adoptions, but we will continue to follow the mission and vision of Mother Teresa,” she said. “We trust in God, who will inspire us on what to do. We will continue to look after the children, but we do not accept the new rules.”
Sister Bressila added that the Missionaries of Charity also have issues with the new practice of allowing prospective parents to choose from among six babies, as it makes children “a commodity and not a gift.”
At a conference in September 2015, India’s Minister of Women and Child Development, Maneka Gandhi, had said that adoption homes run by Missionaries of Charity want to close down because “they do not want to come under a uniform secular agenda, they do not want to comply with the revised guidelines.”
A statement on October 2015 issued by Sunita Kumar, a spokeswoman for the congregation, stated that the nuns decided on suspending their services voluntarily, after the Missionaries of Charity headquarters in Calcutta was told to comply with the new guidelines.
The sisters’ position has been supported by senior officials of the Catholic Church in India, including Cardinal Telesphore Toppo, the Archbishop of Ranchi.