Organic mother seeks custody of toddler in filmmaker’s care

Mumbai, December 6

A Bollywood filmmaker who is the foster father of a two-year-old and the toddler’s biological mother feature in a custody row, while a man has surfaced claiming to be the boy’s father, an official said on Sunday.

The toddler was found at Borivli in September last year badly bruised and having bite marks with the woman who claimed he had slipped out of her hands and hurt himself, an official of the Women and Child Development department said.

While the woman, who had reached Mumbai from Uttar Pradesh leaving behind a daily wage labourer husband and a 12 -year-old son, was referred to a local NGO for mental illness treatment, the infant was taken by the Child Welfare Committee under its care, the official said.

After living in two foster care homes, the toddler was shifted to the Bollywood director’s home in May this year as the previous family said the coronavirus-induced lockdown had made it difficult to look after him, the official said.

At a recent meeting of the Child Welfare Committee in Mumbai, the Bollywood director said he should be allowed to keep the toddler longer, as the mother was not mentally fit.

However, the 30-year-old mother said she was medically fit to look after her son now. The Committee sought a fresh medical fitness certificate for the mother from a government hospital and a decision on with whom to keep the toddler is expected in a few days, the official said.

Meanwhile, a person claiming to be the toddler’s biological father has approached the authorities, the official said, adding they will match his DNA report. A DNA test last month confirmed the woman is the toddler’s biological mother.

The toddler may be placed with the Children’s Aid Society at Mankhurd here as per provisions of the Juvenile Justice Act, before the issue is resolved, the official said.

As per the Centre’s model guidelines for foster care, a foster family can adopt a child after five years of care, if the child has no biological family claiming her.

“We have been informed that the director, who is married and has a son, is not looking to adopt the toddler,” the official said. However, seeing the mother’s condition, he became apprehensive and requested that the child be in foster care for a little longer till she is fine, the official added.

The NGO founder has informed the Committee that the woman may develop ‘severe reactive depression’ if kept away from her son for long, the official said. — PTI

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