Adoption practices in India are primarily informed by the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956 (HAMA) and Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000 (JJ Act). Both legislations have different provisions and objectives. HAMA is the statute that governs the adoption of and by Hindus. The definition of ‘Hindus’ here includes Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs. It gives an adoptive child all the rights of a natural-born child, including the right to inheritance.
Until the JJ Act, the Guardians and Ward Act (GWA), 1980 was the only means for non-Hindu individuals to become guardians of children from their communities. However, since the GWA appoints individuals as legal guardians and not natural parents, guardianship is terminated once the ward turns 21 and the ward assumes individual identity. The year 2015 also saw a moment of transition in the adoption process with the introduction of the Child Adoption Resource Authority (CARA). Central Adoption Resource Authority is an autonomous and statutory body of Ministry of Women and Child Development in the Government of India. The system acts as a centralised digital database of adoptable children and prospective parents. It functions as the nodal body for the adoption of Indian children and is mandated to monitor and regulate in-country and inter-country adoptions. CARA is designated as the Central Authority to deal with inter-country adoptions in accordance with the provisions of the 1993 Hague Convention on Inter-country Adoption, ratified by the Government of India in 2003.CARA primarily deals with the adoption of “orphaned, abandoned and surrendered” children through recognised adoption agencies. In 2018, CARA has allowed individuals in a live-in relationship to adopt children from and within India.
Stakeholders in adoption process
Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) – CARA ensures smooth functioning of the adoption process from time to time, issues Adoption Guidelines laying down procedures and processes to be followed by different stakeholders of the adoption programme.
State Adoption Resource Agency (SARA) – State Adoption Resource Agency acts as a nodal body within the State to promote and monitor adoption and non-institutional care in coordination with Central Adoption Resource Authority.
Specialised Adoption Agency (SAA) – Specialised Adoption Agency (SAA) is recognized by the State Government under sub-section 4 of section 41 of the Act for the purpose of placing children in adoption.
Authorised Foreign Adoption Agency (AFAA)- Authorised Foreign Adoption Agency is recognised as a foreign social or child welfare agency that is authorised by Central Adoption Resource Authority on the recommendation of the concerned Central Authority or Government Department of that country for coordinating all matters relating to adoption of an Indian child by a citizen of that country.
District Child Protection Unit (DCPU) – District Child Protection Unit (DCPU) means a unit set up by the State Government at district level under Section 61A of the Act. It identifies orphan, abandoned and surrendered children in the district and gets them declared legally free for adoption by Child Welfare Committee.
Who is eligible to adopt a child?
- The prospective adoptive parents should be physically, mentally and emotionally stable; financially capable; motivated to adopt a child; and should not have any life threatening medical condition;
- Any prospective adoptive parent, irrespective of his marital status and whether or not he has his own biological son or daughter, can adopt a child;
- Single female is eligible to adopt a child of any gender:
- Single male person shall not be eligible to adopt a girl child;
- In case of a couple, the consent of both spouses shall be required;
- No child shall be given in adoption to a couple unless they have at least two years of stable marital relationship;
- 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
- The minimum age difference between the child and either of the prospective adoptive parents should not be less than 25 years;
- The age for eligibility will be as on the date of registration of the prospective adoptive parents;
- 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 as defined in sub-regulation (21) of regulation 2, hard to place children as mentioned in regulation 50 and in case of relative adoption and adoption by step-parent.
How to adopt a child?
One can adopt a child only through submission of online application available at www.cara.nic.in and following the procedures provided in the Adoption Regulations, 2017. For further details please visit the website www.cara.nic.in
It is now mandatory to register online on CARINGS to adopt a child. If you are not familiar / unable to register online, you can approach the District Child Protection Officer (DCPO) of your district.
- Parents register online on CARINGS (www.cara.nic.in)
- Select preferred Adoption Agency for HSR (Home Study Report) and State
- User ID and Password generated
- Upload documents within 30 days of registration
- Registration number generated
- Specialised Adoption Agency (SAA) conducts Home Study Report (HSR) of the PAPs and uploads it on CARINGS within 30 days from the date of submission of required documents on CARINGS
- Suitability of Prospective Adoptive Parent (PAP)s is determined (if not not found suitable, PAPs informed with reasons for rejection)
- PAPs reserve one child, as per their preference upto 6 children
- PAPs visit the adoption agency within 15 days from the date of reservation and finalise
- If the child is not finalized within stipulated time, the PAPs come down in the seniority list
- On acceptance of the child by the PAPs, SAA completes the referral and adoption process (on CARINGS)
- PAPs take the child in pre – adoption foster care and SAA files petition in the court
- Adoption Court order issued
- Post-adoption follow-up report is conducted for a period of two years.
Parents In-country – Instructions for Online Parent Registration for Adoption
- This registration is meant for Indian citizens residing in India
- Please give your correct residential address and telephone no. with area code
- You or your spouse must have a Permanent Account Number (PAN) card and you have to upload PAN card in portable document format (.pdf) – size should not exceed 512 KB
- You have to upload your (single parent) or your family photograph (couple) in .jpg format (3.5 x 4.5 cm). – Size should not exceed 1 MB
- You must have an email account and mobile number
- After successful registration, you will receive an online acknowledgement letter which will contain your registration and credential details
- In case you misplace your online acknowledgement letter, then it can be regenerated using Forgot Password link available in Track Status page
Please upload the following documents:
- Photograph of person/s adopting a child (Post Card Size)
- Birth Certificate
- Proof of Residence (Adhaar Card/Voter Card/ Driving License/ Passport/ Current Electricity Bill/ Telephone Bill
- Proof of Income of last year (Salary Slip/ Income Certificate issued by Govt. Department/ Income Tax Return)
- In case you are married, please upload Marriage Certificate
- In case you are divorcee, please upload copy of Divorce Decree
- In case of death of your spouse, please upload Death Certificate of spouse
- Certificate from a medical practitioner certifying that the PAPs do not suffer from any chronic, contagious or fatal disease and they are fit to adopt.
- In case of incomplete/wrong information, your application is liable to be treated as invalid
- After registration, you should contact the adoption agency
- All original documents will have to be produced for verification
- Your eligibility for adoption will be decided by the adoption agency.
From In-country to Inter-country
Children would move automatically from in-country adoption to inter-country adoption by CARINGS following time schedule as below:
- after 60 days, if the child is below 5 years of age;
- after 30 days, if the child is above 5 years of age or is a sibling;
- after 15 days, if the child has any intellectual or physical disability.