Child adoption is a dream-come-true for many, especially for the childless couples. Some people adopt children despite having their own biological kids, to support an innocent child and provide a better life. Even a single person has the right to adopt a child and make their life happy and enjoyable. Gradually the trend of adoption is picking up in India. Earlier, social and religious norms were a hurdle in the adoption across the county, and therefore adoption was uncommon. But now, it is considered a part of life.
Like in other countries, in India too there are rules and regulations which govern the adoption of a child. The Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) monitors the adoption process in India. It has laid down several laws, in order to streamline the process and remove confusions for adopters.
Eligibility criteria for adoptive parents
The Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) is a nodal agency, which monitors and regulates the process of adoption all over the country. CARA is a part of the Ministry of Women and Child Development. Adopters have to pass through some procedures and basic formalities, set by CARA, before the adoption of a child.
- Indian citizens, NRIs or foreign citizens can adopt a child in India. But the process of adoption is different.
- Any person can go in for adoption, despite their gender or marital status.
- Two years of stable marriage must be proved by a couple; joint consensus is also necessary before the adoption of a child.
- Age difference plays a key role. There should not be less than 25 years’ difference between the child and the adoptive parents.
Eligibility criteria for child to be adopted
- As per government of India, any orphan, abandoned or surrendered child, who has been declared legally free for adoption by the Child Welfare Committee.
- An orphan child or those children whose parents can’t care for them properly can be adopted. An abandoned child is not eligible to be adopted without police verification.
- Child of a relative under certain conditions, or children of spouse from an earlier marriage, surrendered by the biological parent, to be adopted by the step-parent
Conditions for adoptive parents
CARA has set certain eligibility criteria for the adoptive parents, on how to adopt a child.
- First thing is that adoptive parents should be physically, emotionally and mentally fully fit and stable. Money is required everywhere. So is the case here too. Financial stability is another criterion set by the CARA.
- Health is essential for nurturing a child. Therefore, prospective parents must be healthy and free from life threatening diseases.
- Parents of three or more kids are not eligible for adoption.
- A single female is free to adopt a child of any gender. But a single male can adopt only a boy, and not a girl child.
- The age of the single parent should not exceed 55 years of age.
- Maximum composite age of a couple should be less than 110 years at the time of adoption.
CARA is the sole authority to monitor the adoption process in the country. First of all, adoptive parents need to register with an authorized agency-Recognised Indian Placement Agencies (RIPA) and Special Adoption Agency (SPA)-which are permitted to do the registration in India. Adopters have to visit the Adoption Coordination Agency in their neighbourhood where a social worker will acquaint them with all kinds of information, paperwork and other preparations which are required for registration.
From the registration agency, a social worker will subsequently visit the house of the adoptive parents to see the environment and overall condition of the house. Adopters may have to attend some counselling sessions in order to understand their motivation, preparation, strength and weaknesses and so on. CARA has made it clear that home visit should be finished within three months from the date of registration. After the completion of these steps, everything has to be moved to the competent court.
The agency will inform the interested couple about the place from where a child can be adopted. The agency will reveal everything regarding the child’s health, physical examination and other details. The moment the couple agree and feel comfortable with a child, they have to sign on some documents before giving acceptance. Then all the essential documents will be submitted to a pleader, who prepares a petition. The adoptive parents then have to go to the court and sign on the petition in the presence of the court officer. Afterwards, the couple can take the child home. Of late, CARA has issued an order that, as per the law, an adopted child has equal rights in property inheritance as a biological child.
Adoption by Hindus, Jains, Sikhs and Buddhists must follow a normal law for adopting a child. Under the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956, a single parent or married couple will not get permission to adopt more than one child of the same sex. But Indian Muslims, Parsis, Christians and Jews are subject to the Guardian and Wards Act, 1890. Their personal laws don’t promote full adoption, only guardianship is allowed. They can adopt a child under this Act only under foster care. Once the foster child turns major, then the child is free to nurture or break the relationship in subsequent years. Apart from this, such a child has no right in property inheritance.
Equal law for NRIs & resident Indians
The Women and Child Development Ministry took the initiative to treat the NRI adoptive parents on the same footing as the resident Indians. Since 2015, NRIs are taking more interest in adoption in India. In 2017-18, overall 552 children were adopted by the NRIs from India.
Laws for foreign citizens
Overseas adoptive parents, residing in a country which is a signatory to the Hague Adoption Convention, and who want to adopt a child from India, have to approach the Authorised Foreign Adoption Agency. Then the agency will do their home study and prepare the report for their registration in Child Adoption Resource Information and Guidance System.
Recent records show prospective parents’ inclination towards adopting a girl child, which seems to be a healthy sign for our society. In 2017-18, prospective parents in Bihar adopted almost 150 girls and 73 boys. The performance of Delhi is laudable. In 2014-15, parents adopted 281 girls and 166 boys. This trend is getting common in other states too, where sex-ratio is low. Interestingly, Maharashtra left other states behind in adoption count, with 1,465 girls and 1,208 boys.
Adoption is a win-win situation, as it offers the joy of parenting to couples, while providing the love and comfort of a home to a parent-less child. In case you are interested in adopting a child, have any queries or want to know more details regarding the adoption process, you may contact CARA toll free number: 1800-11-1311.