Why should we care about Adoption
A child can be legally adopted under two different provisions of law in India. A Hindu parent can adopt a Hindu child from another Hindu parent as per the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, 1956 (HAMA) while a person of any religion or faith can adopt a child under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 (JJ Act). There are sharp differences between what each law provides for. It will suffice to mention here that adoption under HAMA are primarily un-supervised, without any due diligence and with fewer safeguards to protect the interests of the child or the parent. In contrast JJ Act provides for an institutionalized, transparent, online process right from registration to follow up after adoption.
Parents have to register with the Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) on their online portal – www.cara.nic.in and follow the prescribed process. (Please refer to “Adoption Process and Latest Guidelines) The JJ Act also provides for adoption of children by step parents and family members. All international adoption also have to be effected under JJ Act only. Adoptions under the JJ Act take much longer time but are secure, monitored and offer problem resolution mechanisms to address exceptions. HAMA on the other hand being an informal mechanism offers no such protection. Though legal, HAMA is fraught with risk (Refer to our blog – “Legal, but Lethal – why to avoid private adoptions under HAMA). CARA currently regulates adoptions under JJ Act, registering the Adoption Agencies in India, prescribing Adoption Guidelines, taking policy decisions, resolving conflicts, penalizing offenders and maintaining a database of children available for adoption across the country.
As of now, there are about 18,000 parents registered for adoption in India. A majority of them seek to adopt a child below 2 year of age. There are fewer than 2000 children available for adoption by CARA under JJ Act. Less than 10% of these are healthy children below 2 years of age. About 50-60% of these are children with special needs and another 25% are over 2 years of age. As a result there is a long wait of 12-15 months for parents seeking to adopt a healthy child below 2 years of age. As a child is first attempted to be placed with Indian parents within India, the wait for foreign nationals is even longer. NRIs and OCIs are treated at par with Indian citizens and follow the same process. View the latest statistics on children availability across age groups, states and category here. Once they register, parents are given referrals of 3 children as per their preferences with a gap of 2 months between each referral. Parents may choose to reserve a child referred to them or not. But once they reserve, they have to adopt the child, failing which they are relegated to the bottom of the wait list. CARA provides for grievance redress if there are genuine issues around the child referred to them. Parents can take home the child from the adoption agency after completing due formalities. They are required to visit the local court where the adoption agency is situated to obtain final adoption decree. The adoption agency provides for the child’s birth certificate carrying the name of the parents who have adopted the child.