Single-parent adoption has been a topic of discussion in India for quite some time now, and it is gaining increasing attention as more and more people consider this option. While single-parent adoption is still not widely accepted in India, there has been some progress in recent years.
In India, where traditional family structures have been the norm, the concept of single-parent adoption is gaining acceptance. Unlike in the past, when adoption was primarily limited to married couples, the process has become more inclusive, allowing unmarried men and women to adopt children as single parents. Additionally, society is also becoming more accepting of adoption by single women, moving away from the traditional taboo associated with it.
What laws says about Single Parent Adoption?
The Hindus Adoptions and Maintenance Act, 1956 is the governing law for adoptions of Hindus, which encompasses Sikhs, Jains, and Buddhists. However, according to this act, any mentally sound male Hindu can adopt a child, provided he is not a minor and has the consent of his living partner, except in the case where the partner has been deemed unfit to give consent by the court. Additionally, any unmarried female Hindu is also eligible to adopt a child, and in the absence of a living husband or cases of a dissolved marriage or an incompetent husband, can do so legally.
Further, the adoption must be legally approved and registered by the concerned authorities. While the act does not explicitly mention single-parent adoption, it does allow for any "person" to adopt, and thus single individuals are eligible to adopt under the act.
In Islam, adoption is not seen as a means of creating a legal parent-child relationship. Under Muslim Personal Law, a single person, including a single parent, can adopt a child. However, the adopted child does not take the name of the adoptive parent and retains their original family name. In addition, the adopted child does not inherit from the adoptive parent or their family unless specified in a will.
It is important to note that adoption under Muslim Personal Law is not considered equivalent to adoption under secular law in India. Muslim Personal Law recognizes only "kafala," which is a form of legal guardianship, rather than full adoption. As a result, the adopted child does not have the same legal status and rights as a biological child.
Furthermore, the Guardians and Wards Act, of 1890, applies to Muslim adoptions. This means that a court can appoint a guardian for the adopted child if it is deemed necessary for their welfare. The court also has the power to revoke the guardianship if it is not in the best interest of the child. In recent years, there have been discussions around the need to reform Muslim Personal Law to provide full adoption rights to Muslim adoptive parents and children. However, as of now, adoption under Muslim Personal Law remains limited to kafala.
Under the Indian Christian Marriage Act, of 1872, adoption is not recognized as a legal means of creating a parent-child relationship. However, Christians in India can still adopt a child through the Guardians and Wards Act, of 1890. The Act allows any person, including a single parent, to apply to become the legal guardian of a child. The legal guardian has the same rights and duties as a natural guardian, except that they cannot act against the best interests of the child.
Parsis in India follow the Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act, of 1936. According to the Act, any Parsi who is of sound mind and has not attained the age of 45 years (for males) or 40 years (for females) is eligible to adopt a child. The Act also allows Parsi to adopt a child of the same sex as themselves. However, the Parsi Adoption and Maintenance Act, of 1952, prohibits a single person from adopting a child. The Act only allows a married couple to adopt a child.
It is important to note that regardless of personal laws, adoption in India is also governed by the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015. Under this Act, any person, including a single parent, can adopt a child through the Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA), a statutory body of the Ministry of Women and Child Development. The Act lays down guidelines for adoption and aims to ensure that the best interests of the child are always upheld.
Eligibility Criteria for Single-parent Adoption
The eligibility criteria for a single parent seeking adoption in India are outlined in the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015, and the Guidelines Governing Adoption of Children, 2015. According to these laws, a single person who wishes to adopt a child must meet the following criteria:
- Age: The prospective adoptive parent must be at least 25 years old.
- Financial Stability: The individual must be financially stable and capable of providing for the child's needs.
- Physical, Mental, and Emotional Capacity: The individual must be physically, mentally, and emotionally capable of taking care of a child.
- Health: The individual must be in good health and free from any contagious or communicable diseases.
- Character: The individual must have a good character and not have any criminal record.
- Motivation: The individual must have a genuine desire to adopt a child and provide them with a safe and loving home.
- Family Support: The individual must have a support system in place to help them raise the child, such as family members or close friends.
- In India, a single female is eligible to adopt a child of any gender. However, unmarried men are not permitted to adopt female children.
The adoption procedure for single parents or individuals in India involves several steps.
1. The first step is registration, which can be done online through the Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) website or with the help of the District Child Protection Officer (DCPO).
2. Eligibility criteria include being above 25 years of age, having a stable income, and being physically, mentally, and emotionally capable of taking care of a child.
3. Once registered, a social worker conducts a home study to assess the suitability of the individual for adoption, examining factors such as living conditions, financial stability, family support, and motivation for adoption. Within 30 days of registration, the adoption agency formulates a home study report and posts it on its database.
4. The adoptive parents can view photographs and medical histories of children and reserve a child for up to 48 hours if they are interested.
5. The adoption agency then arranges a meeting between the prospective parents and the chosen child and assesses them for suitability. If the match is compatible, the future parents sign the child study report in the presence of a social worker.
6. If the match is not compatible, the process starts again. The entire process of matching usually takes around 15 days.
7. If the individual is found suitable for adoption, the adoption agency will refer a child for adoption. The individual can accept or reject the referral.
8. The adoption agency then files a petition for adoption in court, and the court conducts an investigation and passes an adoption order if it is satisfied that the adoption is in the best interest of the child. Post-adoption follow-up visits are conducted by the adoption agency to ensure that the child is adjusting well and receiving proper care.
Challenges Faced by Single Parents During the Adoption Process
Adopting a child as a single parent can also present some unique challenges. Some of these challenges include:
1. Eligibility Requirements: Some adoption agencies or states may have specific eligibility requirements for single parents looking to adopt. These may include age, income, and other factors that may make it more difficult for single parents to qualify.
2. Social Stigma: There may be a social stigma attached to single parenting and adoption, which can make the process more challenging for single parents. Some people may view single parents as being less capable of providing a stable and nurturing environment for a child.
3. Home Study Process: The home study process can be more difficult for single parents as they may need to provide additional documentation or demonstrate that they have a support system in place to help them care for the child.
4. Financial Burden: Adopting a child can be expensive, and as a single parent, all the financial responsibilities may fall solely on them.
5. Emotional Support: Adopting a child can be an emotional journey, and single parents may need additional emotional support and guidance throughout the process.
In conclusion, adoption by single parents in India is becoming more common, and the legal system and adoption agencies have adapted to accommodate this change. Single parents who are interested in adopting a child can benefit from seeking guidance from professionals, such as adoption agencies, and consult with an adoption lawyer, to navigate the unique challenges. With the right resources and support, they can provide a loving and nurturing home for a child in need.
1. Can a single man adopt a girl child in India?
Yes, single men are eligible to adopt children in India, but they are not allowed to adopt a girl child. This is due to the Indian adoption laws and policies that aim to protect the welfare and interests of the child.
2. Can a single parent adopt a child of any religion?
Yes, a single parent can adopt a child of any religion in India. Adoption agencies and courts do not discriminate based on religion, caste, or ethnicity when it comes to adoption.