Child Adoption in India: Rules, Process and Laws
Child adoption is seen as an increasing trend in India and across the world. Most adoptions are either because the parents are not able to have their own kids or because they want to support and give a new lease of life to a child who has been left alone in the world. Earlier considered a taboo in India, adoption is now considered and spoken about freely in the Indian society.
In India, as across many other countries of the World, there are rules and regulations which govern the adoption of a child.
Who is Eligible to Adopt a Child in India?
In India, the adoption process is monitored by Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) which is the nodal agency to monitor and regulate in-country and intra-country adoption and is a part of Ministry of women and child care. Following are the basic conditions which need to be satisfied by the adopting parents in order to be eligible to adopt a child:
- A child in India can be adopted by an Indian citizen, NRI or a foreign citizen. The procedure of adoption is different for all three.
- Any person is eligible to adopt irrespective of their gender or marital status.
- In case a couple is adopting a child, they should have completed at least two years of stable marriage and should have a joint consensus for adoption of the child.
- The age difference between the child and the adoptive parents should not be less than 25 years.
When can A Child be Eligible To Be Adopted?
- As per the guidelines of the Central Government of India, any orphan, abandoned or surrendered child, declared legally free for adoption by the child welfare committee is eligible for adoption.
- A child is said to be an orphan when the child is without a legal parent or a guardian or the parents are not capable of taking care of the child anymore.
- A child is considered abandoned on being deserted or unaccompanied by parents or a guardian and the child welfare committee has declared the child to be abandoned.
- A surrendered child is one who has been relinquished on account of physical, social and emotional factors which are beyond the control of parents or the guardian and is so declared by the child welfare committee.
- In order to be adopted, a child needs to be “legally free”. On receipt of an abandoned child, the District Child Protection Unit puts up an alert with the child’s photograph and details in state-wide newspapers and request the local police to trace the parents. The child is considered legally free for adoption only after the police has given a report stating that the parents of the child are non-traceable.
What are the Normal Conditions to be Fulfilled by Parents?
CARA has defined the eligibility criteria for prospective adoptive parents in order to be able to adopt a child. They are as follows:
- The prospective adoptive parents need to be physically, emotionally and mentally stable.
- They should be financially stable.
- The prospective parents should not be suffering from any life-threatening diseases.
- Couples with three or more kids are not considered for adoption except in case of special-needs children.
- A single female can adopt a child of any gender. However, a single male is not eligible to adopt a girl child.
- A single parent cannot be more than 55 years of age.
- A couple cannot have a cumulative age of more than 110 years.
- The age of the parents as on date of registration should be as per CARA guidelines in order to be eligible for adoption.
How to Adopt a Child in India?
The adoption process in India is governed by multiple laws and adherence to the same is overseen by the Central Adoption Resource Authority.
The procedure for adoption of a child in India can be understood in the following steps:
Step 1 – Registration
Prospective adoptive parents need to get registered with an authorized agency. Recognised Indian Placement Agencies (RIPA) and Special Adoption Agency (SPA) are the agencies which are allowed to make such registrations in India. The prospective adoptive parents can visit the Adoption Coordination Agency in their area where the social worker will explain the process and take you through the formalities, paperwork and general preparation required for registration.
Step 2 – Home Study and Counseling
A social worker for the registration agency will make a visit to the home of the prospective adoptive parent in order to do a home study. The agency might also need the parents to attend counselling sessions in order to understand the motivation, preparation, strengths and weaknesses of the prospective parents. As per CARA regulation, the home study needs to be completed within 3 months from the date of registration.
The conclusion from the home study and counselling sessions is then reported to the honourable court.
Step 3 – Referral of the Child
The agency shall intimate the interested couple when-ever there is a child ready for adoption. The agency will share medical reports, physical examination reports and other relevant information with the couple and also allow them to spend time with the child once they are comfortable with the details shared.
Step 4 – Acceptance of the Child
Once the parents are comfortable with a child, they will have to sign a few documents pertaining to acceptance of the child.
Step 5 – Filing of Petition
All necessary documents are submitted to a lawyer who prepares a petition to be presented to the court. Once the petition is ready, the adoptive parents will have to visit the court and sign the petition in front of the court officer.
Step 6 – Pre-Adoption Foster Care
Once the petition is signed in the court, the adoptive parents can take the child to a pre-adoption foster care centre and understand the habits of the child from the nursing staff before taking the child home.
Step 7 – Court Hearing
The parents have to attend a court hearing along with the child. The hearing is held in a closed room with a judge. The judge may ask a few questions and will mention the amount which needs to be invested in the name of the child.
Step 8 – Court Order
Once the receipt of investment made is shown, the judge shall pass the adoption orders.
Step 9: Follow Up
Post completion of the adoption, the agency needs to submit follow up reports to the court on the child’s well-being. This may continue for 1-2 years.
Can Parents Ask for a Specific Child?
The prospective parents cannot ask for the adoption of a specific child, hence if you are only looking for newborn baby adoption it may not completely be possible. However, they can give their preferences, which may include:
- Gender of the child
- Skin colour
- Health condition (parents can specify if they want to adopt a child with a physical or mental disability)
In cases where preferences are specified, it may take more time to match a child of your choice as the conditions will reduce the pool of kids available for adoption.
Laws Governing Adoption in India
Adoption law in India is in conjunction with the personal laws of individual religion and therefore, adoption is not allowed as per the personal laws of Muslims, Christians, Parsis and Jews in the country. However, an adoption can be made from an orphanage under the Guardians and Wards Act, 1890, subject to court’s approval. In this case, the adoptive couple are guardians and not parents of the adopted child. Under this Act, Christians can adopt a child only under foster care and the foster child is free to break away all relations from the guardians on becoming a major.
Indian citizens who are Hindus, Jains, Buddhists or Sikhs are allowed to adopt a child formally and the adoption is as per the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956 which was enacted as part of the Hindu code bills.
Adoption of abandoned, surrendered or abused children is governed by the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015.
Currently, there is no specific law that governs adoption of kids in India by foreign nationals or NRI’s but the same is governed under Guidelines Governing Adoption of Children, 2015. In the absence of any concrete Act for intercountry adoption, the procedures laid down by the Guardians and Wards Act, 1890 are followed.
What Documents are Required for Adopting a Child?
Following is the list of documents to be prepared for the adoption process:
- Adoption application
- 4 x 6 size photographs – 4 copies of husband and wife together
- Marriage certificate and proof of age
- Reason for adoption
- Latest HIV and Hepatitis B report of the couple
- Income certificate
- Proof of residence
- Investment details
- Reference letter from 3 people
- Any other document which may be required by the agency or the court
Source: Documents Required – CARA
1. Do Adoption Procedures in India Differ from One State to Another?
While the adoption laws are common across India, there are certain adoption guidelines and paperwork requirement that may differ for each State.
2. Is There a Minimum Income Needed for the Adoption of a Child?
As per CARA (Central Adoption Resource Authority), you need to have a minimum average income of Rs. 3000 to be able to adopt a child. If you have other assets like a house or a strong support system, a lower income may be considered.
3. Can I Adopt a Child If I Already have a Child?
Yes, you can. However, under the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, you can only adopt a child of the opposite gender to your child. The Guardians and Wards Act and the Juvenile Justice Act, do not have any such diktats. If the child you will be adopting is old enough to express his views on the matter, his opinion will be taken in writing.
4. Where Can One Find the Application Status for Adopting a Child?
While there is no central database to track applications, you can always keep in touch with the ACA for the status of your application.
5. How to Determine the Health of the Child Shown to Me?
You have the right to take the child for a general check-up to determine his overall health. However, invasive tests should be done only if there is an indication of a serious medical condition.
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