A total of 3,531 children, including 2,061 girls, were adopted in India during the one year period ending March 31 with Maharashtra recording the highest number of adoptions among states, according to government data. As per data from the Child Adoption Resource Authority (CARA), 1,470 boys and 2,061 girls were adopted from April 1, 2019 to March 31, 2020. In the context of widespread and generational preference for sons across cultures in the country, an official said peoples mindset is slowly changing and they are becoming more accepting towards adopting girls. We give them three choices – one can opt for a girl, a boy, or can give no preference (while applying for adopting a child). Many people prefer to adopt a girl child, he said. Activists, however, say more girls are adopted because more of them are available for adoption. Even a casual visit to an adoption agency will tell you there are far more girls than boys to select for adoption. So to attribute it to progressive values may be a bit exaggerated or over-simplistic, said Akhila Sivadas, executive director at the Centre for Advocacy and Research, a non-profit organisation. She said many families have a strong preference for sons and go to the extent of taking recourse to pre-natal sex determination and selection to abort the female foetus, with some even abandoning the girl child. There is a sense of collective wrong and guilt among some people who genuinely strive to redress it by adopting girls, she said. According to the data, 3,120 children were adopted in the age group of 0-5 years while in the age group of 5-18 years as many as 411 children were adopted between April last year and March this year. The official said adoption of older children continues to be an issue as most parents still prefer to adopt children below two years of age. People prefer to adopt younger children due to which it becomes more and more difficult to get a child adopted as he or she grows up, he said. Sivadas said people might prefer younger children to experience the joy of parenting a child from the time it is born or soon after it is born. However, we must recognize that adoption is not always done with the altruistic motive of giving the child a better life. As a result children with any kind of challenges including inter-sex children are rarely adopted, she said. She further said to what extent all this is reflecting changing values is yet to be established and only an in-depth study can resolve this matter with some degree of certainty and authority. Within the country, 3,110 children were adopted while 421 inter-country adoptions took place in 2019-20, according to the data. Among states, the largest number of children were adopted from Maharashtra at 615 followed by Karnataka at 272, Tamil Nadu at 271, Uttar Pradesh at 261 and Odisha at 251. The official said generally Maharashtra has the highest number of adoptions because it has over 60 adoption agencies while other states that are bigger have on an average 20 adoption agencies. The number of adoptions during 2019-20 is slightly lower than in 2018-19 when 3,745 children were adopted. The above data pertains to adoption of orphaned, abandoned and surrendered children and does not include children adopted from relatives or adoption of stepchildren.