Adoption
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This article is written by Rachit Garg pursuing BA LLB.(H.) from University of Petroleum and Energy Studies, Dehradun.

Introduction

Adoption has been practised for thousands of years in India, Ramayana and Mahabharata, the two great epics, bearing references to it. Not only to a homeless child but also to a couple who cannot conceive a child, adoption gives them a ray of hope. Moreover, seeing adoption as an effective solution to overpopulation, many couples are making it their first choice. 

Earlier, the option of adoption was only available to the Hindu community after the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act came in 1956, which facilitated the adoption of Hindu children by a person belonging to Hindu community, and was not applicable to communities like Muslims, Christians and Parsis, they had to recourse to the Guardians and Wards Act, 1890, according to which, they can become guardians of the children. However, the process merely created a relationship of a guardian and ward. The first step of a secular adoption law came after the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act, 2000 was passed and the same was last amended in 2015. 

As defined under Section 2(2) of Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act, 2015, ‘Adoption’ means the process through which the adopted child is permanently separated from his biological parents and becomes the lawful child of his adoptive parents with all the rights, privileges and responsibilities that are attached to a biological child.

What is the Central Adoption Resource Authority? 

It is the Central Authority of India, which is mandated to promote & facilitate domestic adoptions, regulate inter-country adoption and frame Adoption Regulations as per Section 68 of JJ Act(C&PC), 2015. 

What is the role of a Specialized Adoption Agency (SAA) in the adoption process? 

SAA helps to facilitate the process of adoption for the children in its institution, along with children in the Child Care Institutions links to the SAA. It also has the responsibility to provide care and protection to every child in its institution. 

Who can be adopted?

  1. Children up to the age of 18 years can be adopted. (Section 2(12) of Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act, 2015).
  2. According to Section 56(1), a couple or a single parent can adopt an orphan/ abandoned/surrendered child.
  3. Also, children of relatives can also be adopted by In-country parents (Section 56(2)) and by Inter-country parents as well. (Section 60).

Eligibility of the Prospective Adoptive Parents (PAPs)

According to Section 57 of the Act:

  1. Must be physically fit, financially sound, mentally alert and highly motivated to adopt a child for providing a good upbringing to him.
  2. In case of a couple, consent of both the spouses necessary for the adoption.
  3. A single or divorced person can also adopt, subject to fulfilment of the criteria and in accordance with the provisions of adoption regulations framed by the Authority.
  4. A single male is not eligible to adopt a girl child.
  5. No child shall be given in adoption to a couple unless they have at least two years of stable marital relationship.
  6. The age of prospective adoptive parents, as on the date of registration, shall be counted for deciding the eligibility and the eligibility of prospective adoptive parents to apply for children of different age groups shall be as under:

Age of the Child

Maximum composite

age of

PAPs (Couple)

Maximum age of the

single PAP

Up to 4 yrs 

90 yrs 

45 yrs

Above 4 yrs and

below 8 yrs

100 yrs

50 yrs

Above 8 yrs up to

18 yrs

110 yrs 

55 yrs

  • The minimum age difference between the child and either of the prospective adoptive parents shall not be less than twenty-five years.
  • The age criteria for prospective adoptive parents shall not be applicable in case of relative adoptions and adoption by step-parent.
  • Couples with three or more children shall not be considered for adoption except in case of special need children, hard to place children and in case of relative adoption and adoption by step-parent.

Procedure for Declaring a Child Legally Free for Adoption (Section 38)

For such a declaration, the responsibility lies with the Child Welfare Committee of a district. Procedure followed in the different categories of children is:

  1. Orphan/ abandoned Child- First, CWC tries to trace the parents and guardians of the child. If the child’s status is established as an orphan or abandoned, he/she is legally free for adoption. Declaration should be made within two months from the date of production of the child in case he/she is up to two years of age, otherwise within four months.
  2. Surrendered Child- Parents or guardians are given two months time after surrendering the child to reconsider their decision. For the period lapse, the child is legally declared to be free for adoption.

Adoption Procedure

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In Case of Adoption by Indian Parents Living in India

  • Apply to a Specialised Adoption Agency (SAA)

Any prospective parent, irrespective of their religion, can apply in a prescribed manner through Child Adoption Resource Information and Guidance System by filling an online application form and uploading relevant documents.

  • Home study report of parents preparation

It is prepared by the SAA, which is to be selected by the prospective parent after the registration process is complete. The report, after its completion, will be posted in the Child Adoption Resource Information and Guidance System by the SAA. The report will act as the basis for the adoption of a child from anywhere in the country and will remain valid for three years.

  • Referral of the child

On the basis of the seniority, the prospective parents are referred to the online profile of three children, including their photographs, Child Study report and Medical Examination Report, in their preference category, if any, from one or more Specialised Adoption Agencies. After viewing the profile of the child or children, the prospective parents have a time of forty-eight hours for reserving a child of their choice.

  • Pre-adoption foster care

After acceptance of the child, the prospective adoptive parents shall sign the Child Report and Medical Examination Report. SAA gives the child in pre-adoption foster care and files an application in court for an adoption order.

  • Adoption order and birth certificate

A certified copy of adoption order is forwarded to the prospective adoptive parents and request for the birth certificate of the child is filled to the issuing authority, with the name of adoptive parents as parents, and date of birth as recorded in the adoption order.

  • Follow-up of progress of adopted child

The SAA will prepare the post-adoption follow up report on a six-monthly basis for two years from the date of pro-adoption foster placement with the prospective adoptive parents.

 B. In Case of Adoption by Parents Living in Abroad

  • Application

Prospective Parents living in a country which is a signatory to the Hague Adoption Convention and wishes to adopt an Indian child can approach the authorised Foreign Adoption Agency or the Central Authority concerned for the purpose of registration in the Child Adoption Resource Information and Guidance System and preparation of their Home Study Report.

  • Referral of the child

After the Authorised Foreign Adoption Agency ascertains the eligibility of the prospective parents and after the completion and registration of their Application Form and Home Study Report, they are referred to with profiles of two children, based on their reference, if any. The prospective adoptive parents will have ninety-six hours to reserve one of the children referred to their choice. The Authorised Foreign Adoption Agency will also forward the original documents of the prospective adoptive parents to the Specialised Adoptive agency.

  • No Objection Certificate and pre-adoption foster care

The prospective parents may take the child in pre-adoption foster care for a temporary period within India after the No Objection Certificate is issued by the Authority and while the court order is pending. The prospective adoptive parents will receive final custody of the child from the SAA as soon as the a passport and visa are issued to the child after an adoption order from the court.

  • Follow-up of progress of adopted child

The authorised Foreign Adoption Agency or any other concerned authority will report the progress of the adopted child for two years from the date of arrival of the adopted child in the receiving country, on a quarterly basis during  the first year, and on a half-yearly basis in the second year.

C. In Case of Adoption by Relatives

In such a case, consent of the biological parents or permission of the Child Welfare Committee, along with the consent of the child if he is five years of age or above will be required.

  • Filling of Application in Competent court

The prospective adoptive parents, who intend to adopt the child of a relative must file an application in the competent court, along with the consent letter of the biological parents and along with all the necessary documents.

  • Obtaining certified order

The prospective adoptive parents must obtain a certified copy of the adoption order from the court must get the same updated in the Child Adoption Resource Information and Guidance System.

Can an adoption be terminated?

According to the Regulation 13(6) of the Adoption Regulation 2017, termination of adoption is going to depend on the fact that whether the adoption is still in pre-adoption foster care stage or whether the final adoption order has been given by the court.

Is there a minimum income level for a parent to be eligible to adopt a child?

There is no minimum income level as the eligibility criteria specified in Adoption Regulations 2017 for the purpose of adoption of the child. However, while conducting the home study, the capability and motivation of the prospective adoptive family to provide reasonable living standards to the child will be assessed.

How much does it charge to adopt a child in India?

As per the Adoption Regulation 2017, The SAA will charge:

  1. Rs. 6,000/- as fee for the Home Study Report.
  2. Rs. 40,000/- as child care corpus fee.
  3. Rs. 2,000/- for each post-adoption follow-up visit.

Problems With the New Centralised Online Adoption System

Previously, a prospective parent could visit an SSA or an authorised agent for the purpose of adoption. The process was regulated by individual states, limiting the pool of both parents and children. In 2015, the Union Ministry of Women and Child Development, with the intention to speed up the adoption process and make it more transparent, transferred the entire adoption procedure online, which was to be monitored by the Central Adoption Resource Authority. It created a national waiting list, so that prospective parents no longer have to be waitlisted with multiple individual adoption agencies to get a child. However, in 2015-16, domestic adoption figures dropped from 3,988 to 3.011. According to Adoption Statistics by CARA, for the year 2018-19, adoption figures rose to 3,374. Moreover, all the forms being in English have led to the difficulty faced by people applying in rural areas. Also, with the new guidelines, the prospective parents can apply and choose a child without ever setting foot in an agency or meeting children, making the whole experience less personal. Under the old system, the staff at the agencies got the opportunity to interact and speak with the prospective parents even before their social workers went to conduct a home study assessment. Under the new adoption process, that interaction between the prospective parents and the agency has been disabled.

In the past two years, around 275 of the adopted children were returned to the system, almost 5% of the children adopted in India in the same period. In 2016, CARA introduced a category called immediate placement, allowing parents to bypass a long waiting list. The category consisted of children who had been labelled “hard to place”. These children were referred several times to prospective parents through Child Adoption Resource Information and Guidance System but could not find a family.

Conclusion

Despite the efforts of the government and the authorities to find a right home for the abandoned or surrendered children, the rate of adoption in India still stays low and doesn’t seem to be increasing, Not only it can be because of the time-consuming process of adoption set up by CARA, the perception of Indians regarding adoption can be one of the other contributing factors. Most parents want a child between the age of zero and two years old as they believe the parent-child bond is created during infancy. If more parents are willing to adopt, the rate of adoption in India can significantly increase.


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