An adoption is a sacred act that human beings perform. It is a pious activity. Legal adoption means “to take voluntarily (a child of other parents) as one’s own child especially in compliance with formal legal procedures”, as quoted by the Merriam-Webster legal dictionary. It can be done legally as well illegally. Adoption is done when the party willing to adopt and the child form a coalition between them which is a matter of ‘personal law’. Under this, people following Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism can adopt a child. For people following Islam, Christianity, and Zoroastrianism, there is no separate adoption law. They do legal adoption under the Guardians and Wards Act, 1890.
I have collected all these information through online research. Maybe after some days, a few changes will occur in these above-given laws. Hence, it will be better to hire an advocate and visit the orphanage to collect the latest information.
Section 2 of Juvenile Justice Amendment Act, 2006 states that adoption means the process through which the adopted child is permanently separated from his biological parent and becomes the legitimate child of his adoptive parents with all rights, privileges, and responsibility that are attached to the relationship.
People who can adopt a child in India:
A married or single Indian, a Non-Resident Indian or a person who belongs to any nation i.e. a foreigner can adopt a child in India, legally. The documentation process and guidelines may be different for each group.
Recommended for you:
10 Things to Consider When Hiring a Babysitter
Eligibility to adopt a child in India:
According to the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, 1956, adoption can be done by:
- Any male following Hinduism who is a not a minor and possesses a sound mind and has an eligibility to adopt a child. In case, he has a spouse, he can do the adoption only if she gives her consent or has been declared incapable to give her consent in it.
- Any female following Hinduism, who is single or married, can adopt a child. In case she is married, she can do the adoption only if her husband is dead or marriage has been abolished or her husband has been declared incapable to give his consent.
Conditions for adoption:
- During the adoption of a son, the parent who is a Hindu male or female should not have a living son in the succeeding three generations, by adoption or legitimate blood relation.
- During the adoption of a daughter, the parent who is a Hindu male or female should not have any daughter or a son’s daughter.
- During the adoption of a daughter by a male, the father who is adopting should be at least twenty-one years or older than the girl child.
- During the adoption of a son by a female, the mother who is adopting should be at least twenty-one years or older than the boy child.
In case any person following Islam, Christianity or Zoroastrianism wants to adopt a child, he/she should approach the court under section 8 of the Guardians and Wards Act, 1890. Through this, the child can only be made a ward and not an adoptive child. Thus, when the child turns 21, he becomes an individual identity and the adoptive parent has no longer any kind of authority on him. In the case of Christianity, the child can be adopted only under the foster care. Thus, the child can break all kinds of connections from the adoptive parent once he becomes a major.
In case of intercountry adoption, it is done under the Guidelines Governing Adoption of Children, 2015. Any foreigner or NRI parent can do an adoption in India before the child turns 3. As there is no separate law for this category, the parent can approach the court under Guardians and Ward Act, 1890. If the child is abused, abandoned or surrendered, adoption is done under the chapter VIII of the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015.
There is no particular law for adoption of such children under the Guardians and Wards Act, 1890. There is a law in section 58 of the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015 according to which an abandoned, orphan or surrendered child can be adopted by any Indian citizen, no matter what his/her religion is. Also, the parents who are adopting should be financially sound, physically fit and mentally alert in order to adopt a child according to the section 57 of the same act. Also, the consent of both the parents is required. A single male parent cannot adopt a girl child but a single or divorced parent can definitely go for adoption.
The child can be adopted if:
- The child is a Hindu and either a girl/boy.
- He/she is below 15 years.
- The child hasn’t been adopted before.
- He/she is unmarried.
Under the Guardianship law and the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015, a child who is not a Hindu, minor, orphan, abandoned or surrendered or all of the above can also be adopted.
Procedure for a valid adoption:
Under the Hindu and Maintenance Act, 1956,
- The parent(s) willing to adopt need to apply for the adoption at the Child Welfare Agency. It can be done either at Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA), New Delhi or at Adoption Coordinating Agency (ACA) which is available in the capital city of each state.
- Once the application has been made, a preliminary interview is conducted by the agency with the couple to understand their motivation and intention behind opting for the process of adoption.
- After the child to be adopted is finalized, a petition has to be filed at the court of required jurisdiction. Then, a court hearing regarding adoption takes place within 2 months.
- The adoption is legalized once the decree is issued by the court.
Under the Guardians and Wards Act, 1890,
- An application needs to be filed in the court in order to seek the guardianship. Complete information on the couple, the reason behind the adoption and some other information asked in the application need to be provided.
- After the court admits the application, a hearing date is fixed by the court itself for hearing and viewing requirements, pieces of evidence and interest of the minor.
- After hearing and viewing everything well, it is decided by the court that whether the guardianship of the child should be given to the adopting party or not.
Recommended for you:
List of 10 Best Baby Names and Meanings Websites
a) Before which age can I adopt the baby?
Under the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, a child can be adopted before he/she turns fifteen and under the Guardians and Wards Act, a child who had not completed the age of 18 can be adopted.
b) Can the gender and age of the child be specified before adoption?
Of course, it can be done. The age, gender, skin colour, health condition, religion and other features can be specified by the adoptive parent before adoption. But the less the requirements, the better it is.
c) How much time is taken in the entire process?
It is quite a long process. Though, nowadays it is done a lot faster than the earlier times. The adoptive party goes to the adoption agency and all the adoption agencies around the country upload their details and the preferences are matched through the Central Adoption Research Authority software.
d) Can I adopt a child if I already have one?
Yes, you can. If you are adopting a child through the Hindu and Maintenance Act, then the gender of the child is a factor. You will have to adopt a child of the opposite gender which you already have. But if you are adopting through the Guardians and Wards Act, 1956 and the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015, then there is no issue of gender. You can adopt as many kids as you want of the same gender.
e) Is there any minimum income in order to adopt a child?
In order to adopt, the minimum average income of the adopting couple or the single parent should be Rs. 3,000. If you have a lower income but other assets like your own house, then it may be considered.
As we all know, India is the second most populated country in the world and thus, adoption is an act that should be performed by everyone at a large scale. It is a way of preventing the raging issues of female feticide and infanticide in our country. Also, nothing is better than giving a child a standard life that he/she needs.