In India, the adoption process is governed by the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act of 2015, which lays out the legal procedures and requirements for adopting a child in India. The act is implemented by the Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA), which is a statutory body under the Ministry of Women and Child Development.
CARA is responsible for maintaining the national adoption database and for accrediting and supervising adoption agencies in India. The process for adopting a child in India involves several steps, including counseling, home study, and legal procedures. Prospective parents need to understand and comply with all the regulations and requirements to ensure that the adoption process is carried out in the best interest of the child.
The legal framework for child adoption in India
The adoption of children is regulated by the Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA). The Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) is the nodal agency in India for the regulation of adoption of children. It is responsible for maintaining a central adoption database and ensuring that the process of adoption is transparent and ethical.
General Laws that governs Adoption process
child adoption is primarily governed by the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 (JJ Act).The JJ Act replaced the earlier law, the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000, and aims to provide for the care, protection, and rehabilitation of children in need of care and protection.
The Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act (HAMA) of 1956 apply to Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, and Sikhs and it grants the child complete status as a natural child born to the family and also gives the right to inherit the property. The adoption under HAMA is irrevocable and the child cannot be given or taken back.
The Guardian and Wards Act of 1890 applies to Muslims, Parsis, Christians, and Jews, and it governs the adoption among these communities. According to the GAWA, the connection formed upon adoption is merely that of guardian and ward and it does not bestow child status on the adopted child.
Read More: Adoption Laws in India
The JJ Act lays down specific eligibility criteria for prospective adoptive parents (PAPs).
Who Can Adopt
However, there are certain eligibility criteria that prospective adoptive parents must meet, which include:
- The prospective adoptive parents (PAPs) must be married and should have been living together for at least two years.
- The age difference between the child and the prospective adoptive parent(s) should not be more than 45 years.
- The prospective adoptive parents should not have more than two living biological children.
- In the case of single parents, if they are adopting, they should be above 30 years of age.
In India, anyone is eligible to adopt a child regardless of gender or marital status. This means that both single individuals and married couples, as well as individuals of any gender, may be approved to adopt a child as long as they meet the other eligibility requirements. These requirements may include factors such as age, financial stability, and the ability to provide a loving and supportive home for the child.
In the case of related or step-parent adoptions, age criteria do not apply and couples with three or more children are also eligible to adopt children with special needs or who are difficult to place.
As for overseas citizens of India and foreign parents, they can adopt children from India as well. They need to be eligible according to the laws of their own country as well as Indian laws and regulations, also they are needed to comply with additional requirements such as the Hague Adoption Convention.
The maximum composite age for a couple to adopt a child less than four years old is 90, while it is 45 in the case of a single parent. For children above four years old, the maximum composite age for a couple is 100, and for a single parent, it is 50 years. It's important to note that all the above requirements and criteria may vary, it's always best to consult a legal professional before proceeding with the adoption process (link to rest the case).
It is important to note that these criteria are subject to change depending on the situation and case by a case basis, it will be decided by the adoption agency
Who cannot adopt?
In India, certain individuals are not eligible to adopt a child. The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act of 2015 lays out the disqualifications for adoption. These include:
- A person who has been convicted of an offense involving moral turpitude or of an offense punishable under the Indian Penal Code or any other law.
- A person who has been found guilty of child abuse or cruelty towards a child.
- A person who has been found guilty of abandoning a child or of neglecting a child.
- A person who is undergoing treatment for any life-threatening or infectious disease.
- A person who has been declared by a competent court to be of unsound mind.
- A couple in which one spouse has been declared by a competent court to be of unsound mind, or is undergoing treatment for any life-threatening or infectious disease.
- A couple who have been divorced or have obtained a legal separation.
- A person, married or single, under 21 years of age
Additionally, the act also mentions that a person or a couple who are not found suitable to adopt a child after the assessment by the authorized adoption agency also can be disqualified.
Child Who Cannot Be Adopted?
In India, any child who is under the age of 18 years and is legally eligible for adoption can be adopted. According to the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act of 2015, the following children are legally eligible for adoption:
- Orphaned children: Children who have been orphaned as a result of the death of one or both parents and have no relatives who can take care of them.
- Abandoned children: Children who have been abandoned by their parents and are unable to be reunited with them, and have been declared as legally free for adoption by the competent authority.
- Surrendered children: Children who have been voluntarily given up for adoption by their parents or guardians and have been declared legally free for adoption by the competent authority.
- Children in need of care and protection: Children who need a stable and loving home, such as children living in institutional care, children living in poverty, or children who have been subjected to abuse or neglect and have been declared legally free for adoption by the competent authority.
- Children with Special Needs: Children with special needs or disabilities are also legally eligible for adoption, such as children with physical or mental disabilities or chronic medical conditions.
How to adopt a child in india?
The adoption procedures in India are primarily governed by the guidelines issued by CARA. The process involves several legal and social procedures to ensure that the best interest of the child is protected.
Step 1 - Registration with the Adoption Agency
The first step is to register with a government-recognized adoption agency or an orphanage. The prospective parents need to fill out an application form and submit it along with supporting documents such as age proof, income proof, medical certificates, and marriage certificate.
Step 2 - Home Study
Once registered, the prospective parents will have to go through a home study process. The home study includes a detailed assessment of the family's suitability to adopt, including a review of their financial, emotional, and physical readiness.
Step 3 - Counseling
Before the adoption process begins, the prospective parents will also go through a counseling session. This is to help them understand the challenges and rewards of adoption, as well as the emotional needs of the adopted child.
Step 4 - Getting Acceptance Letter
The letter of acceptance is issued by the adoption agency after the completion of the initial screening process, which includes the submission of an application form and supporting documents, a home study, and counseling sessions. Once the adoption agency determines that the prospective parents are suitable for adoption, they issue a letter of acceptance.
Step 5 - Legal Procedures
The adoption agency initiates legal procedures to transfer the child's custody to the adoptive parents. This involves obtaining a court order, obtaining a birth certificate for the child with the adoptive parents' names, and obtaining an adoption deed.
Step 6 - Foster Care
Before the adoption is finalized, the child is placed with the prospective parents under foster care for a period of 6 to 12 months. During this time, the adoption agency monitors the child's progress and provides support to the adoptive parents.
Step 7 - Finalization of Adoption
After the foster care period, the adoption agency submits a report to the court, which decides whether to grant the adoption order. Once the court grants the adoption order, the adoption agency provides the adoptive parents with a new birth certificate for the child with their names.
Step 8 - Post-Adoption Follow-Up
After the adoption is finalized, the adoption agency conducts post-adoption follow-up visits to ensure that the child is adjusting well and to provide support to the adoptive parents.
Post-adoption formalities and follow-up
After adopting a child in India, there are several post-adoption formalities and follow-up procedures that adoptive parents must follow to ensure the child's welfare and legal compliance. Here are some of the post-adoption formalities and follow-up procedures in India:
The authorized adoption agency or Specialized Adoption Agency (SAA) conducts post-placement visits to the adoptive family to assess the child's adjustment to the new environment and the family's ability to provide care and support.
The adoptive parents must take the child for regular medical check-ups to ensure their health and well-being.
Education and upbringing:
The adoptive parents must provide the child with proper education and upbringing, including their cultural and emotional needs.
Reporting to Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA):
The adoptive parents must report to the Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) periodically, providing updates on the child's progress and well-being.
The adoptive parents must obtain an adoption certificate from the court after the adoption is complete. This certificate serves as proof of adoption and is required for various legal and official purposes.
The adoptive parents must complete any legal formalities related to the adoption, such as changing the child's name or registering the adoption with other authorities.
The adoptive parents can join support groups or counseling services to seek guidance and support in parenting an adopted child.
The adoptive parents must update their legal documents such as passport, insurance policies, and wills to include the adopted child.
It is essential to follow these post-adoption formalities and follow-up procedures to ensure the child's welfare and legal compliance
Documents Required For Child Adoption
Here is the list of documents that are typically required for adoption in India.
- Proof of identity: This may include a passport, PAN card, or voter ID card.
- Proof of residence: This may include a voter ID card, utility bill, or rental agreement.
- Marriage certificate: This is required to prove that the adoptive parents are married.
- Income proof: This may include salary slips, bank statements, or IT returns.
- Medical reports: Adoptive parents may be required to submit medical reports to ensure that they are fit and healthy to care for a child.
- Home study report: This report is prepared by a social worker and assesses the suitability of the adoptive parents to care for a child.
- No objection certificate: This certificate is issued by the concerned child welfare committee and states that there is no objection to the adoption.
- Court order: The adoption must be finalized by a court order.
Punishment for Illegal Adoption
Illegal adoption in India is considered a serious offense and is punishable under the law. According to the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act of 2015, the following are considered illegal adoptions:
- Adoptions that are not carried out through a CARA-approved adoption agency.
- Adoptions that do not follow the legal procedures and requirements as laid out in the JJ Act.
- Adoptions that involve buying or selling a child.
- Adoptions that are not in the best interests of the child.
- Inter-country adoptions that do not comply with the guidelines of the Hague Convention on Inter-country Adoption, 1993.
The punishment for committing illegal adoption under JJ Act varies from imprisonment to fines, or both. The Act also mentions that the person committing the offense is punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than six months but which may extend to two years and also with a fine. If a Corporate body is found guilty the punishment is a fine which shall not be less than one lakh rupees but which may extend to ten lakh rupees.
How Can Rest The Case (RTC) Help You In The Adoption Process?
At Res The Case, an experienced Adoption lawyer can assist in the adoption of a child in India by providing legal advice and representation throughout the process. This can include helping the prospective adoptive parents understand and comply with the laws and regulations governing adoption in India, such as the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act of 2015, which regulates inter-country and in-country adoptions. RTC can help you to prepare and file the necessary paperwork, represent prospective parents in court, and assist with any legal issues that may arise during the adoption process. Additionally, we may help with legal issues that may arise post-adoption such as custody and guardianship.
1) How long does it take to adopt a child?
The time can vary depending on several factors, such as the type of adoption, the child's age and special needs, and the state in which the adoption is taking place. For domestic adoption, it typically takes between 6 months to 2 years from the time the prospective parents register with an adoption agency to the time the child is placed with them. The duration for a domestic adoption depends on the number of available children for adoption and the match of the child with the adoptive parents. The process for inter-country adoption may take longer, up to 24-36 months, due to the additional legal and administrative requirements that need to be met.
2) How much it costs to adopt a child in India?
The cost of adopting a child in India can vary depending on various factors such as the type of adoption, the agency you are working with, and the child's age and special needs. Generally, the cost can range from around 100,000 to 500,000 Indian Rupees.
3) If I saw an orphan child on the road, can I adopt it?
It is not legally permissible for a person to simply pick up a child from the street and raise them as their own. This is considered an illegal adoption and can lead to serious legal and emotional repercussions for both the child and the adoptive parents.
4) Can we adopt a newborn baby?
According to the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act of 2015, infants and newborns are considered children who are legally eligible for adoption. This applies to children who have been voluntarily surrendered by their birth parents, or those who have been abandoned or orphaned.
5) What happens if I adopt illegally?
Illegal adoption, also known as "underground" or "black market" adoption, is the adoption of a child without following the legal process as prescribed by the government. It is considered a serious offense in India, and the consequences can be severe for both the adoptive parents and the child.
6) Can parents with biological children adopt?
The adoption process in India is based on the principle that the best interests of the child must be upheld at all times. As long as the prospective adoptive parents can provide a loving and stable home for the child and are willing to meet the legal requirements and responsibilities of adoption, they are eligible to adopt. The process for adoptive parents with biological children is similar to that of parents without biological children.
7) What is the minimum age for a child to get adopted?
The minimum age of a child that can be adopted in India is 0 years. Infants and newborn babies are considered children who are legally eligible for adoption. As per the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act of 2015, any child under the age of 18 years who is legally eligible for adoption can be adopted.