What are the main authorities that regulate adoption in India?

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. 

Can same sex couples adopt in India?

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.

What is a home study report?

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.1 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. 

  1. Regulation 2(11), Adoption Regulations, 2017.[]

What is the difference between adoption and guardianship?

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.

Adoptive parent provide the child nothing with care

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.1

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.2 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.3

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.4 If the adoption is terminated by the Court, the child can again be put up for adoption by other prospective parents.5

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.6

  1. Section 75, Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015.[]
  2. Regulation 13(1), Adoption Regulations, 2017.[]
  3. Regulation 13(5), Adoption Regulations, 2017.[]
  4. Regulation 13(7), Adoption Regulations, 2017.[]
  5. Regulation 13(8), Adoption Regulations, 2017.[]
  6. Section 15, Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, 1956.[]

What is Adoption?

Adoption is1 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 child2 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 children3. You cannot adopt under this law if you are a Muslim, Christian, Parsi or Jew, or from Scheduled Tribes4.  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 religion5 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: 

Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956 (HAMA)

(Hindu Law)

Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015

(Non-Religious Law)

Adoptive Parents can only be Hindu, Buddhist, Jain or Sikh. You cannot adopt under this law if you are a Muslim, Christian, Parsi or Jew or from Scheduled Tribes. Adoptive Parents can be of any religion, caste or tribe.
Only Hindu children can be adopted Any child of any religion can be adopted
Children up to 15 years can be adopted Children up to 18 years can be adopted
Procedure to adopt is not given in detail. Usually a deed is executed to adopt the child. The procedure for adoption is different for different categories depending on who you are:

 

  1. Section 2(2), Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015; Section 63, Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015.[]
  2. Section 63, Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015[]
  3. Section 2(1), Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956.[]
  4. Section 2(2), Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956.[]
  5. Section 56 (1),  Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015.[]

Who can be Adopted?

Adoption under Non-Religious Law

Under the non-religious law on adoption,1 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 guardian2 
    • 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.3 
  • 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,4 children can be adopted only if they meet the following criteria,5 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
  1. Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015.[]
  2. Section 1(4), Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015.[]
  3. Section 56(2), Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015.[]
  4. Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956.[]
  5. []