Adoption Laws in India

Adoption is best done through the proper channel. In India, couples often get tricked into private contracts with the child’s parents or hospitals, and in many cases, have lost a lot of money and the baby too! So before adopting a baby, find out all that you can about the laws in India and do not deviate from the legal procedures. Here’s a brief overview of the legal angle to adoption:

Read: Adoption Agencies in India

Adoption Laws in India

In India, the adoption procedure is governed by legislations that are based on the religion of the adopter:

The Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act (HAMA), 1956

HAMA is the only existing legislation that provides guidelines for adoption to Hindus in India. The category of Hindus includes any person who is a Hindu by religion or any of its forms, including Buddhists, Jains, Brahmo, Sikh, Prarthna or Arya Samaj. According to this Act, the adopted child is legally considered a natural-born offspring of the couple and has all the rights including the right to inheritance. The city civil courts will handle the adoption case. Couples who already have a child can only adopt children belonging to the sex opposite of the child they already have. For instance, a couple having a boy can only adopt a girl and vice-versa.

Read: Parenting a biological and adopted child together

The Guardianship and Wards Act, 1890

Non-Hindus in India, such as Muslims, Christians, Parsis and Jews are governed by this law. Unfortunately, this law does not recognize full adoption, as it only confers a guardian-ward relationship to the adopter and the adoptee. The petition of the guardianship has to be accompanied by an investment plan and investment of certain amount of money for the ward’s security. The high court or family court handles the case. This legal guardian-ward relationship exists until the child completes 21 years of age. Foreigners, who seek to adopt an Indian Child, have to do so under this Act to assume legal Guardianship of the child. They also have to give assurance to the court, that they would legally adopt the child as per the laws of their country, within two years after the arrival of the child in their country.

Read: Busting adoption myths in India

Monitoring Adoption in India

According to the government of India, all matters regarding adoption come under the Ministry of Women & Child Development, which set up the Central Adoption Resource Agency (CARA) in 1990, with its headquarters at New Delhi, to deal with all matters concerning adoption in India.  

Read: Medical check up before adoption

Central Adoption Resource Agency (CARA)

The Central Adoption Resource Agency (CARA) is an Autonomous Body under the Ministry of Women & Child Development. Its goal is to find a family for every orphaned, abandoned or surrendered child in the country. In-country Adoption of Indian children is governed by the In-country Guidelines 2015, while the Inter-country Adoption procedure is governed by a set of Guidelines last issued in July 2015. While CARA is the nodal body set up at the governmental level, the actual functioning of individual adoption agencies is monitored by Voluntary Coordinating Agencies(VCA) like the Coordinating Voluntary Adoption Resource Agency (CVARA) in Delhi, and other local bodies in other states. The local VCA in Delhi, CVARA was formed in 1984, on the recommendations of the Supreme Court. The recognized placement agencies in each State are identified by the VCAs in the States and the CVARA in Delhi. The state governments can licence agencies only to do in-country adoption, while the “Voluntary Coordinating Agencies” in each State can handle inter-country adoption.

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