Adoption III – Adoption Laws in India

Dealing with infertility is a very sad and emotional issue, one that is very personal and oftentimes not understood by friends and family.  Infertility treatments are available at every nook and corner to those who are interested, but they don’t work for everyone, and for some they are too expensive.

When a woman makes a healthy and mental decision and lets go of the dream of having a child biologically, only then can she fully embrace the dream of having a child through adoption.  For many, it is the only way they will ever become parents.

For those of you considering adopting a child, here are some of basic rules you need to know about this process.

 Who is allowed to adopt a child?

In India, an Indian, Non Resident Indian (NRI), a foreign citizen, a single female and married couples can adopt a child.  There are specific guidelines and documentation for each group of prospective adoptive parents. Single men are not eligible to be adoptive parents but applied through a registered agency he may be able to but a male child only.

Adoptive parents should be above 21 yrs of age, medically fit and financially able to care for a child. Most adoption agencies set an appropriate age for adoptive parents to qualify. If they want a child who is less than a year old, the adoptive parents should have a maximum combined age of 90 years and neither parent must be older than 45 years.

In the case of adoption of older children, the age of the parents is increased accordingly. For example, for a one-year-old child, the age limit is 46 years, for a two-year-old child, it is 47 years and so on. The upper age limit for an adopted child is 12 years while for an adoptive parent it is 55 years. If you choose to adopt a child with special needs, May God bless you abundantly here too, the age of the parent cannot exceed 55 years.

What are the laws governing adoption?

Only Indian citizens who are Hindus, Jains, Sikhs or Buddhists are allowed to formally adopt a child.  In India we follow the ‘Hndu Adoption and Maintenance Act of 1956 ‘.  This act does not allow a single parent or married couple to adopt more than one child of the same sex. Foreign citizens, NRIs, and those Indian nationals who are Muslims, Parsis, Christians or Jews are subject to the Guardian and Wards Act of 1890. Under this act, the adoptive parent is only the guardian of the child until she reaches 18 years of age.  As an Indian citizen who is a Christian I feel very sorry that when I adopt my child all I will be is the ‘Guardian’.  Although it is just on paper its pretty disheartening.

Foreign citizens and NRIs are supposed to formally adopt their child according to the adoption laws and procedures in the country of their residence. This must be carried out within two years of the individual becoming a child’s guardian.

Can a parent ask for a specific child

I am sure people dream of having a child of a certain gender or look and yes adoptive parents are allowed to ask for a child as per their preferences.  You can ask for a child of a certain age, gender (if it is the first child in the family), skin colour, religion, special features, health condition, etc.  However you must understand that the more specifications you have the more difficult it is to find a child who conforms to them.

Once you have decided on the child you want,  the kids in the orphanage are scrutinised to find a suitable match. When a child with the desired characteristics is found, she is shown to the prospective parents.  If it does not suit what you are looking for then you can always change the parameters and search again.

In the end I would like to say that the entire adoption process takes months or even a year to complete.  It is a decision that will change your life forever and you should think long and hard about your choice to have a child.  The child comes with a no return, no exchange and no refund policy.  If you are a 100% sure then congratulations very soon you will be ready to welcome your new child to the family.

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