Adoption in India – how to go about it
Adopting a child from India may seem simple on paper, but the paperwork and procedures can be time-consuming. So much so that it is rare for a foreigner to get a baby younger than 10 months or a year. Ofcourse, the satisfaction and fulfillment that one feels when the baby is one’s arms makes the long process worth the wait! Luckily, the Indian government has realised this problem and is now trying to speed up the process of adoption. From this year onwards some results are expected.
What exactly does an adoptive parent have to anticipate? Well, there are different rules – for Indians living in India, for those of Indian descent living in foreign countries and for foreigners. One of the advantages of Indian adoptions is that singles are allowed to adopt, including single males. However, it is easier for single women.
Generally speaking, childless parents are preferred, though this is not a must. If you have only boys, then it is perfectly alright if you adopt a girl. The age difference between the child and parents should not be more than 45 years.
This site tells you the basics if you are a foreigner. Choosing the right adoption agency with an India Program is crucial. The best agency to select is one with credentials in terms of their past record in placing children from India and whether they are connected with reputed agencies in India. But don’t take them at their word. Get addresses and talk to the parents of the kids the agency has placed. It is very important to get the right adoption agency in India. Not all accredited agencies are good. This is an example of what can go wrong. It is a personal experience of an adoptive parent who found that her baby was badly looked after while she was waiting to get her papers in order.
As the Indian Central Adoption Resource Agency (CARA regulates all adoptions in India) says, the agency that you select in your country has to be an ‘approved’ one in your home country. It is this agency which will prepare the Home Study Report and get the permissions from your government so that you can adopt from a foreign country like India. Once this is done, the Indian agency takes over. It will hunt for a child which is free for inter-country adoption (a child which fails to find a suitable adoptive parent within India in a certain stipulated time) and a child which matches your requirements. Usually this should take less than three months. Some children with special needs and older children can become free for inter-country adoption within 10 days of their becoming
legally available as such children find it difficult to find homes in India. Once the child is selected, then permissions have to be got from the ACA (Adoption Coordinating Agency—formally VCA). This should take about a month. After examining these papers CARA gives the go ahead and this could take another two-three weeks.
Then its time to get permission from the courts. As per the latest rules, the courts have been directed to process the applications within two months. Once cleared, the prospective parent will get the guardian ship of the child. Time to take the child home at long last! You will have to travel to India to get the child. Once back home, there is more paperwork and ofcourse visits and checks by social workers before your guardianship is made into parenthood.
This site will give you more more internet websites to go through if you are adopting a child in India.
For NRI’s (Non-Resident Indians)
No relatives can be adopted – only abandoned children. Secondly, at least one parent needs to hold foreign citizenship as most countries (United States) do not allow you to adopt from another country unless you are a citizen. It is also ideal if the other parent has an Indian passport as this exempts the prospective parent from an ACA clearance. This saves time and paperwork. Overall, parents of Indian descent are preferred, even if they hold foreign citizenship. While the CARA site says that at least at least one parent has to hold an Indian passport to get ACA exemption, this one says that all parents of Indian Indian descent can claim this exemption, but I did not find this info on the CARA site and its the CARA site which I prefer to go by. It is possible though that this is a new rule and CARA’s site has not yet updated. If it is true, then this is great news…not only do you save time, you get your child earlier, when he or she is younger.
A little about CARA
All adoptions are regulated by the Central Adoption Resource Agency (CARA). CARA sets out the eligibility conditions, processing steps, documentation, costs , court process, foster care conditions, issuance of Birth certificate and post-adoption follow-up. It is mandatory on adoption agencies placing children in adoption to follow the CARA Guidelines. The main thing required is to go through a reputed agency so that there are no legal hassles. You can get a list of Indian adoption agencies on the CARA site.
For Indians adopting in India:
Indians adopting in India can get very young babies as the adoption procedure is shorter. It should not take more than 4-6 months after you decide which baby you want to parent. The first thing to do is to register with a local Adoption Agency or with the State Adoption Cell. The agency will make a home study report and decide if you are capable of rearing a child – in terms of our financial and emotional capabilities. Once a child is selected, matching the description (if any) required by the parents, then the paperwork starts. Agencies ofcourse prefer to give a child matching the physical description of the parents. For example, dark parents who demand a fair child may not get one. There is a slightly longer procedure for inter-state adoptions. For more details read here.
The paperwork involves permission from the courts. The court will not take more than 2 months, thats the law today. Once the child has been adopted, there are regular visits by social workers to check up on the family to ensure that the child is adjusting. This follow up usually happens for a period of one year.
Huge number of destitute children in India just waiting to be adopted:
These are some adoption statistics from indianngos.com:
Number of destitute children in India : 44 million
Number of Orphans in India : 12.44 million
Number of NGOs working on the issue of Adoption : around 300
More stats are available on the same site.
(The photographs are those of Mumbai street children who live with their parents, and not in orphanages or adoption centers)