The Shishu Mandir Home was established in 1983 in the premises of the Ashok Nursing Home at Ulsoor, Bangalore. At the Shishu Home children were admitted from the slums who were seriously sick and requiring intense medical treatment for many months. When they recovered, some expressed the wish not to be sent home again, but to stay on. Hella could not turn away from that heart-rending request and thus she began to create a Home for them. She followed the idea of a big family where everyone's individuality is recognized. The children live as in a large family, and everyone bears a certain responsibility. The atmosphere is conducive and warm, there is no physical punishment. Children of school-going age are admitted at the Shishu School.
When the children obtain employment, they (must) leave the Home. For most of them, the Shishu Home is the place, where they can return at any time of their life with whatever problem or hardship. They can return and find help and support there.
The Children's Home offers three main areas of support
1 Care and protection of children
2 In-country and Inter-country adoptions
3 Support for women in distress
1 Care and Protection of Children
All children in the Home have experienced very difficult circumstances in their families. Most are there because of unbearable home situations with extreme poverty coupled with alcoholic parents or a single parent. At Shishu, we ensure that all the children feel safe and secure. The most important feature of the Shishu Mandir Home is the warm and child-oriented atmosphere. They experience an attitude of benevolence and understanding which they have never experienced before. There is absolutely no physical punishment. Discipline is achieved by extra tasks and deprivation of cherished things. The staff are addressed as 'Aunty' and the children call each other 'Akka' and 'Anna' and in fact develop a feeling of sister and brotherhood between them. Children who have suffered abuse are counseled and gently transitioned into a new life. Special care is taken to ensure that nutritious warm meals are provided to the children. Clean bathrooms, beds, a separate cupboard and drawer for each child are also ensured.
After school, activities like playing games, going to the park or a cultural event are also encouraged and followed. For this we enlist volunteers, mainly from Germany, who spend a minimum of six months at Shishu. The volunteers engage the children with a range of creative activities. If a child displays an extraordinary talent in any particular field, this is encouraged with special lessons. Completing their schooling does not mean that the children are sent out. It is felt that their intellectual and psychological development is incomplete. They require further support in order to stand on their own feet. Consequently they stay on while pursuing their higher education and usually, until they are employed.
The efforts we take for offering them a safe and loving family environment becomes apparent, when the children have to leave. It usually is a tearful parting and they continue to spend their weekends at the Shishu.
Shishu Mandir is a licensed agency to promote in- and inter-country adoptions. The procedure has to ensure that the interests of the child to be adopted as well as of the prospective adoptive parents are ascertained.
Procedure to declare a child free for adoption
The procedure of declaring an abandoned child free for adoption is tedious and time-consuming.
1) An FIR has to be filed at the nearest police station.
2) The child has to be produced to the Child Welfare Committee (CWC), a government department, which will register the child as living in our institution.
3) The case has to be notified on three media: TV (national channel), All India Radio and a
4) Accepting that no claim is made, the CWC requests the Probation Officer for an enquiry in the area of tracing the child originally.
5) On the basis of the Probation Officer's report the CWC issues a Release Order pronouncing the child to be free for adoption.
In the case of a relinquished child, the procedure is less tedious, though also time consuming.
1) Mother and child have to appear at the CWC, where the mother is counselled to keep her child with her.
2) If she is unable to do so, the CWC allows the institution to look after the child.
3) There is an obligatory waiting period of two months in case the mother changes her mind.
4) After that time the CWC issues the Release Order.
Procedure for Parents to adopt a child
In India, prospective parents can register with the adoption agency directly.
Foreign nationals have to register with the Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) New Delhi through a recognized agency from their country.
Non-resident Indians holding an OCI certificate can apply as local Indians. However, the adoption process will follow the rules of an inter-country adoption. Other non-resident Indians will be considered as foreign nationals. Foreigners cannot adopt, but have to apply for guardianship and complete the adoption procedure in their own country.
The social worker of the adoption agency conducts a Home Study of the prospective parents and drafts a report based on it. This report is confidential and follows the norms laid down by the Supreme Court of India. Once a child is matched to the parents, and the adoptive parents accept the child a pre-adoptive foster care agreement is made. Under this agreement, the parents can take the child home.
Irrespective of their religion Indian parents can be declared as adoptive parents holding the status like biological parents. The court procedure takes about four months.
All adoption papers reach the adoption agency only after scrutiny by CARA. The adoption agency submits the papers to the court through the services of a lawyer. Foreigners can only apply for guardianship under the GAWA Act. The adoption has to be executed by the parents in their country of domicile.
3 Support for Women in Distress
Pregnant girls or women in special circumstances are eligible for this support. Due to the social stigma attached to pre-marital pregnancy, these women are either ostracized from their community or sent away by their families, until they have delivered the baby. In such cases, we provide shelter and care for the duration of their stay. Some choose to relinquish the baby, but those, who choose not to, are offered support by way of skill training, counseling or job placement.