How to adopt a child in India?

“You are giving a life to someone, be proud about it. Adopt a child”

Adoption rate in India ‘shameful’: the Union Minister Maneka Gandhi said a year ago in February 2015. The current government brought numerous changes to the act, new guidelines were formed for CARA (Central Adoption Resource Authority), process change was put in place to:

  • Simplify adoption
  • Increase transparency
  • Streamline process for intra and inter country adoption
  • Reduce delays and have fixed timelines
  • Revise age criteria
  • Introduce e-governance.

This article is to create awareness of adoption in India, and we hope that it helps educate people about adoption process which in turn would promote adoption, thus giving homes and families to thousands of abandoned and orphaned children.

This news article about a 28 year old man becoming India’s Youngest Single Parent to Adopt a Special Child motivated me to write about Adoption.

Provisions for Adoption:

Indian legislation gives 3 provisions for adoption.

Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act 1956: It provides for adoption of Hindu children by Hindu religion parents. The act applies to any person who is Buddhist, Jaina or Sikh by religion as well.

Guardians and Ward Act 1890: It is specifically outlined for the non-Hindus specifically Muslims, Christians, Parsis and Jews as their personal laws do not allow full adoption and only allows Guardianship. It is however applicable to all children irrespective of race.

For Hindus, guardianship is provisioned for under the Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act, 1956

Juvenile Justice Act 2000: It covers all communities. An Indian, Non Resident Indian, or a foreign prospective adoptive parent/parents are allowed to adopt Indian Children under this act.

It is important to note that all 3 acts extend to whole of India except the state of Jammu and Kashmir

The Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) have setup guidelines based on the ‘Juvenile Justice Act (Care and protection of children)’ amended in 2015.

The procedure, eligibility criteria, regulation may differ for Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, and Guardians and Ward Act. Since CARA follows Juvenile Justice guidelines, we wish to focus on the same as well. 

Some eligibility criteria for Prospective Adoptive Parents:

  • Single female can adopt a child of any gender.
  • Single male can only adopt a male child.
  • A married couple is allowed to adopt only after 2 years of stable marriage and both need to provide their consent.
  • The age difference between the adoptive child and Prospective Adoptive Parents must not be less than 25 years.
  • Couples with more than 4 children will not be considered for adoption.

Eligibility criteria for the child to be allowed for adoption:

Any orphan or abandoned or surrendered child, declared legally free for adoption by the Child Welfare Committee is eligible for adoption. NO, you cannot just adopt a child you found on the roadside or at your doorstep as depicted in the movies. The child has to be produced before the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) and information has to be sent to the local police for legal proceedings as per Juvenile Justice Act.

Procedure of Adoption for Indian residents:

  • Prospective Adoptive parents (PAP) need to register to CARINGS.
    • PAPs select preferred Adoption Agency for ‘Home Study Report (HSR)’
    • They must also select child preferences:
      • Gender: Male/Female
      • Category: Single/Siblings
      • Health: Normal/Physically Challenged/Mentally Challenged/Both
      • Age: 0-2/2-4/…/16-18
      • 3 states from where you would like to adopt the child. You can choose “From Anywhere” as well.
  • Once registered, you will receive an online acknowledgment with registration details and credentials.
  • Submit the required documents within 30 days:
    • PAN card
    • Proof of residence
    • Proof of income
    • Copy of Marriage certificate and photograph (if Applicable)
    • Copy of Divorce Decree, or Death certificate of spouse (If applicable)
    • Copy of Birth certificate of PAPs
    • Copy of medical certificate deeming the PAPs fit to adopt.
    • If it’s a single parent, an undertaking from relative who will take care of the child in case of mishap.
  • Within 30 days of submission of documents Specialised Adoption Agencies (SAA) will conduct Home Study and upload the report on CARINGS.
  • Suitability of PAPs will be determined and if rejected, they will be informed with reasons.
  • PAPs have to reserve a child from a maximum of 6 choices provided. They can see the photographs, study reports, and medical reports of the children.
  • PAPs will visit the Adoption Agency within 15 days of reservation and finalise the adoption of the child.
  • The SAA completes the acceptance process on CARINGS and the PAPs are allowed to take the child for Pre-Adoption Foster care – parents are to take the child home, take care of the child medically, physically and nutritionally till the court gives its order on the adoption.
  • SAA will file a petition in court for adoption on behalf of the PAPs and the court needs to dispose off the case in 2 months. Once the Court issues the order of adoption, SAA will obtain a new birth certificate of the child with PAPs as parents of the child.
  • Post adoption follow up will be conducted for the following 2 years. If the child is unable to adjust with the new parents, a proper counselling will be arranged by SAA for parents and the child. If counselling does not help, the SAA will make arrangements for the relocation of the child.

Government has simplified and streamlined the process for inter country and intra country adoption. While the procedure is only slightly different for foreign or Non Resident citizens, it is now simpler for anyone to adopt a child from India. Kudos to the current government.

There are no unwanted Children, just unfound families – National Adoption Centre, USA

Read some of the stories shared by the parents who open their hearts and gave a family to some by adopting them here

One of my personal favourite lines from the stories, one dedicated to the happiness that the newly adopted child brought a single parent:

“Nothing comes from nothing, nothing ever could, Perhaps in my youth or childhood, I must have done something good…….”

Share your experiences, fear, and anxieties about adoption. Share your views and questions on the article if you have any in the comments below.


Cover image source: JonesDevoy

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