The following authorities do adoption work in India:
- Central Adoption Resource Authority – It is the central authority in charge of monitoring and regulating adoptions in India, receiving applications for inter-country adoptions, maintaining a database of children to be adopted, etc. Each state has a subset of this authority known as the State Adoption Resource Agency which works for the promotion, facilitation, monitoring and regulation of adoption in the states.
- Child Welfare Committee – It takes cognizance of the children brought before it, conducts enquiry and declares them free for adoption, etc.
- District Child Protection Unit – It aims to identify orphan, abandoned and surrendered children in the district and get them declared legally free for adoption by Child Welfare Committee, tracking the progress of children legally free for adoption, etc.
- Specialized Adoption Agencies – It is responsible for the care, protection and well-being of every child in its charge, and works for their needs.
The following authorities are in-charge of inter-country adoptions (adoption of children who are foreigners or foreigners adopting Indian children):
- Authorised Foreign Adoption Agency – It registers the prospective adoptive parents interested to adopt children from India and completes their Home Study Report, provides orientations to the parents about the child’s culture, etc.
- Indian Diplomatic Missions – It registers the adoption applications of Non-Resident Indian Prospective Adoptive Parents or Overseas Citizens of India in the Child Adoption Resource Information and Guidance System, and processes them, etc.
Yes, you can adopt a child from a different state than the one you live in. To do this, while you are registering with Central Adoption Resource Authority, you should indicate your preferred states for adopting a child.
The wait time depends upon several factors like choice of gender, age, medical condition of the child, preference of the state, etc. Therefore, it is difficult to ascertain the exact time period. Please see here for more information.
Although LGBTQ+ persons can adopt in India, same sex couples cannot. If you are a same sex couple, you may adopt a child separately and raise him/her together, but both you and your spouse cannot be legal parents of that child in India.
The decision is taken on the basis of seniority of prospective adoptive parents. Seniority is calculated from the date of successful registration, including submission of documents. For example, if Mini registered on 1st May, 2019, and Sita registered on 28th May, 2019, Mini is senior to Sita in terms of eligibility to adopt a child.
A home study is a report, valid for 3 years, conducted by the Specialised Adoption Agency (SAA) closest to your residence to determine your eligibility and suitability to adopt a child, and it includes details like social and economic status, family background, description of home and atmosphere therein and health status. This report will be completed within 30 days of your registration, and posted on the Child Adoption Resource Information and Guidance System (CARINGS). Please see here for more information.
Adoption is different from guardianship. A guardian is a person who cares for a child or for his property till the child becomes an adult (turns 18 years old), but it does not create lasting legal or familial ties like adoption. For example, Aman’s parents are not alive anymore so his uncle may apply for guardianship. As Aman’s guardian, his uncle has the legal responsibility of his upbringing, property, major financial decisions etc.
There are two main legislations on guardianship:
If you belong to any religious community except Hindu, you can refer to the Guardians and Wards Act, 1890.
If anyone who has charge of or control over a child assaults, abandons, abuses, exposes or deliberately neglects the child, causing the child unnecessary mental or physical suffering, that person can be punished be punished with imprisonment for up to three years and/or a fine of Rupees one lakh.
Also, for any general adoption by a parent in India, a Specialised Adoption Agency (SAA) has to prepare a post-adoption follow-up report every six months for two years after the child has been placed with the adoptive parents. In case the child is having any adjustment problems with the adoptive parents, the SAA has to arrange counseling for such adoptive parents and adoptees.
If a child is not able to adjust with the adoptive family, an application can be filed by the SAA in the Court which gave the adoption order, asking the Court to invalidate the adoption. If the adoption is terminated by the Court, the child can again be put up for adoption by other prospective parents.
If the child is a Hindu and has been validly adopted by a Hindu parent under the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, the adoption cannot be cancelled by the adoptive father or mother or any other person, and the adopted child cannot give up the adopted status and return to the family of birth.
Adoption is the process through which a prospective adoptive parent(s) lawfully assumes the responsibility of a child, including all the rights, privileges and responsibilities that have already been given to the child. After the legal formalities of adoption are done, the child is permanently separated from their biological parents and is assumed to be the child of the adoptive parents.
In India, the laws on adoption are based on the religion of the parents and the child. You can choose which law applies to you from the options given below.
If you are a Hindu, Buddhist, Jain and Sikh
If you are a Hindu, Buddhist, Jain or Sikh (referred to collectively as Hindu) then you have the option of adopting under the Hindu adoption law known as the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, 1956 (HAMA). It provides for adoption of Hindu children. You cannot adopt under this law if you are a Muslim, Christian, Parsi or Jew, or from Scheduled Tribes. If you want to adopt under the Hindu law, read more here.
All other religions
If you do not want to or cannot adopt under a religious law, then you have the option of adopting under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 (JJ Act), which is a general adoption law under which any person of any religion can adopt, including Hindus, Scheduled Tribes, etc. Read more to understand how the process of adoption works under this law.
See the table given below if you want to understand which law you should adopt under:
Adoption under Non-Religious Law
Under the non-religious law on adoption, the following children can be adopted:
- If the children given below are declared legally free for adoption by the Child Welfare Committee:
- Any orphan who is a child without biological parents, adoptive parents or a legal guardian
- Abandoned child who is a child deserted by their biological parents
- Surrendered child who is a child who has been given up by the parents to the adoption authorities
- Child of a relative.
- Child of a spouse who is surrendered by the biological parent, to be adopted by the step-parent.
Adoption under Hindu Law
Under the Hindu law on adoption, children can be adopted only if they meet the following criteria,5 with some exceptions based on customs and usage:
- They are not married
- They are below 15 years of age
- They are Hindu
- They are not already adopted