Parenting is a joyous journey of nurturing a young one with love and affection. The importance of a family in early years of development for a child is crucial. Adoption provides a loving home to orphans and destitute children.
In recent years, the views on adoption have changed drastically in India. Traditionally in India, adoptions were intra-familial with the objective of fulfilling religious and familial duties. The first Children’s Act was enacted in the Madras and Bombay Precedencies in 1920, with the purposes of providing care and protection to destitute and neglected children.
Conceiving often becomes an issue due to today’s changed lifestyles. Mostly, couples wait for five years before contemplating medical treatments or adoption.
As Madhurima Gupta shares-“We were expecting our first child and very excited. Unfortunately, it was an ectopic pregnancy. We couldn’t conceive for the next couple of years. After many failed cycles of IVF, we gave up. By this time, eight long years had passed.”
Then they decided to adopt a child to fulfill their dream to become parents.
We followed the government procedure that took many months. We were asked to wait for about four years.
“We followed the government procedure that took many months. We were asked to wait for about four years. However, we received a call much sooner to see a “case.” The child turned to be angel in disguise…and thus began the roller-coaster journey of being parents to a boisterous, over adventurous, active and an extremely loving child.”
Adopting a child helps to fill the void in the lives’ couples and completes families. But it is a long process and involves a lot of paperwork.
Adoption in India
According to CARA (Central Adoption Resource Authority), the Central Designated Authority of Government of India that facilitates adoption of Indian children as per Adoption Guidelines, 3988 children were given for in-country adoption and 374 for inter-country adoption from April 2014 to March 2015. Despite the fact that there are millions of orphans in our country, the number of adoptable (legally free for adoption) children is lesser.
Three legislations allow Indian citizens to adopt children:
- The Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act of 1956
- The Guardians and Wards Act of 1890
- The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act of 2000, amended in 2006
Indian citizens, non-resident Indians and non-Indians residing outside India, can adopt a child from India under one of the above mentioned three Acts, though different set of rules are applicable for each of the category of adopting parents. Adoption laws give priority to Indian citizens residing in India during the adoption process. A lot of the adoption procedure also depends on regulations of the countries of residence of adoptive parents and relevant immigration laws.
Adopting as a Non Resident Indian (NRI)
A child in an Indian orphanage has to be rejected by three native Indian couples, before he/she can be placed for international adoption. Direct communication with an Indian orphanage is not possible and prospective parents have to go through an agency in the country of residence.
Children for Adoption
A child below six years who is an orphan, abandoned or surrendered and declared ‘legally free for adoption’ by Child Welfare Committee is eligible for adoption. A court-committed child can come for adoption through Juvenile Welfare Board. An advertisement is placed in State level newspapers by District Child Protection Unit with the child’s photograph and details to trace out the biological parents or legal guardians. If the child is unclaimed, then he/she is placed for adoption.
Babies, who are born in hospitals and relinquished, have a record of medical birth history. However this information may not be available in case of abandoned babies. At the time of registration, you can request for a hospital born baby.
Age of the Child
You can decide to adopt a baby, a toddler or even an older child. It is a personal preference. However, bonding with a baby is often easier. With an older child, it might require some time.
A single woman adopting a boy should be at least 21 years older than the child. A single male is not eligible to adopt a girl child.
It is now possible to adopt two children of the same-sex and also another child of the same sex as that of the biological offspring.
Eligibility Criterion for Parents
The eligibility criterion for prospective adoptive parents (PAPs) are as follows-
• The prospective adoptive parents should be physically, mentally and emotionally stable and not have any life threatening medical condition.
• Adopting couple should have at least two years of stable marital relationship
• Any prospective adoptive parent, irrespective of marital status or having own biological son or daughter is eligible to adopt.
• A single female is eligible to adopt a child of any gender
• A single male can only adopt a male child
• The consent of both spouses is necessary if they adopt as a couple
• The age of prospective adoptive parents is counted from the date of registration. If a child offered for adoption is 4 years of age then the composite age of prospective adoptive parents is 90 years and for single parents is 45 years. For older children it is more. The minimum age difference between the child and either of the prospective adoptive parents should not be less than twenty one years.
Adopting directly from nursing homes, maternity homes or hospitals is not possible. There are many touts/ or middleman in adoption who might mislead and lead to illegal adoption, which may make you a part of child trafficking network. Legal adoption can only be done through Specialised Adoption agencies (SAAs) that are recognised by State Governments.
CARA (Central Adoption Resource Authority) is the Central Designated Authority of Government of India and responsible for facilitating adoption of Indian Children as per the Adoption Guidelines.
CARA has an online registration for all prospective parents within the country and abroad. It also helps in tracking the status of the application. Registering online on the CARA website is the first step for adoption. You can search for an agency from any state in India on the CARA website.
The following documents are prescribed by CARA to validate the parent’s ability to take care of a child. Uploading these documents within 30 days of successful submission of an online registration form is mandatory otherwise the registration gets cancelled.
• PAN Card/Passport
• Proof of residence
• Proof of income
• Copy of marriage certificate
• Birth certificates of parents
• Medical practitioner’s certificate for parent’s fitness (no chronic, contagious or fatal disease)
• An undertaking from a relative to take care of the child in case of mishap, if the prospective is a single parent.
After uploading the documents. prospective parents need to contact the concerned Specialised Adoption Agency for conducting Home Study Report (HSR). This is an assessment of the capability of the prospective parents to take care and look after an adopted child and this assessment is done with the help of a home-study by a professional Social worker. This report is shared with prospective parents.
After the Home-Study report is done, the prospective parents are placed on the agency’s wait list. The waiting time depends on the number of families on the wait list, and number of children cleared for adoption.
At the end of the waiting period, the prospective adoptive parents get a chance to select a child and take him/her home under foster care. This is a stopgap arrangement until the adoption deed is finalized. The court process takes some time, and adoption is legally final only after the issue of an adoption deed.
After the issue of the adoption deed, the adoptive parents can apply for a birth certificate. A new birth certificate with names of adoptive parents as Father and Mother is then issued. This birth certificate is used for most legal requirements like school admissions and other legal documents.
A child, apart from bringing happiness and joy, brings hopes and fills the void in the life of parents who are unable to have kids. A child completes a family. Over time, the bonding becomes stronger and within a year or two the parents forget that the child is adopted.
“When the doctor asked me if anyone in the family had asthma, I called my mother to find out. While I was making the call Rajeev interrupted and stated that Meira was adopted”.
This happened with Rajeev and Varsha Sharma. Varsha tells us about this incident when their four year old daughter Meira showed symptoms of asthma. “When the doctor asked me if anyone in the family had asthma, I called my mother to find out. While I was making the call Rajeev interrupted and stated that Meira was adopted”.
Adoption has its highs and lows but brings much happiness. It is a bond of love nurtured over years to become stronger and as close as blood ties.
Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA)
Books on Adoption
Adoption in India by Vinita Bhargava
Image credits: childadoption.in