Are you qualified to adopt in India? Read on
Adopting a bundle of joy can prove to be a tedious process unless you are aware about certain laws. Here's a ready reckoner you need to consult
When Delhi-based Ankit Sharma decided to adopt a girl child, little did he know that he will have to cross the hurdle of the law that abides the system. “After my wife expired last year, my life came crashing down. She wanted to raise a girl child. So I decided to fulfill her dream,” said Sharma.
When Sharma approached an adoption agency, he was told that he cannot adopt a girl child since he was ‘a single male parent and less than 30 years of age’. “This was a big blow,” he said. Now, Sharma has decided to wait for another two years to file for adoption papers.
All this and more, the system of adoption in India is governed by laws which can be dated back to the 1890s. The process of adoption in India is governed by three major legislations: The Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act of 1956, the Guardians and Wards Act of 1890 and the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act of 2000 (which was amended in 2006).
“Adoption, according to the Indian law, is a personal act and hence is governed by various personal laws of different religions,” informs Rakesh K. Singh, an international legal consultant and advisor and founder of RKS Associate.
According to the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956, which covers Hindus, Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs in India:
- A married couple or a single adult can file for adoption in India
- Legally, the man adopts with the consent of his wife
- If a biological child already exists in the family, a child of the opposite sex has to be adopted
- Children adopted under the Act get the same legal rights as a biological child might
- Children under the age of 15 years can be adopted
- A single man adopting a girl should be at least 21 years older than the child
- A single woman adopting a boy should be at least 21 years older than the child
- Adoption under the act is irrevocable.
Continue reading to know the adoption rules for NRIs in India.
“However, foreign citizens, NRIs and those Indian nationals who are Muslims, Parsis, Christians or Jews, are subject to the Guardian and Wards Act of 1890 for adoption in India,” informs advocate Pulkit Gupta. “In this case, the parent adopting is a ‘guardian’ and the child is a ‘ward’. This means that the same rights of that of a biological child aren’t inherited,” adds Singh.
The highlights of the Guardian and Wards Act of 1890 are:
- A married couple with 5 years of a stable relationship, financial and health status with reasonable income to support the child can file for adoption in India
- Single parents up to 45 years can adopt
- The age difference between that of the single adoptive parent and the child should be 21 years or more
- A second adoption in India will be considered only when the legal adoption of the first child is completed
- Same sex couples are not eligible to adopt
- Both spouses can legally be the guardians (as against the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act where the man adopts with the consent of his wife)
Can single parents file for adoption in India?
“Yes, single parents can adopt a child,” says Singh. However, the law is discriminatory in this regard. A single or unmarried man is not permitted to adopt a girl child till a certain age. “While the possibility of abuse of a girl child by a man may seem something she should be protected against, there should be no general rule that single men cannot make good fathers for adopted girls,” asserts Singh.
Listed are laws for adoption in India for single parents:
- A single adoptive parent should not be less than 30 years of age and shall not be above the age of 50 years
- The maximum age shall be 45 years to adopt children in the age group of 0-3 years and 50 years for adopting children above 3 years
- The single parent should have an additional family
Continue reading to know if the adoptive parents have to undergo medical tests.
Are there any medical tests that adoptive parents have to go through?
Adoptive parents do have to submit a medical report before they officially qualify as parents. “The adoption agency gives a detailed list of the medical tests that both parents must undergo. These are general tests to ascertain that the adoptive parents have no major complications,” informs Singh.
Besides, you may also have to submit a brief medical history which should have the following information:
- Illnesses you have had previously
- Operations you have undergone
- Hospitalisation, if any, with a brief background
- Psychiatric treatment in the past, if any, citing the reason
- Accidents suffered
- Significant family history (diabetes, heart disease, hereditary or congenital defects)
“The reports must be supported by a fitness certificate by a qualified medical practitioner declaring that both the adoptive parents as fit and fine, with no genetic disorders or other complications, in the past or otherwise,” adds Singh.
Whom do you approach to for adoption in India?
“All the adoption agencies must be recognised by Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) or by the State Government,” informs Gupta. The purpose of CARA is to ensure that every orphan, destitute and surrendered child has a loving and caring family. “CARA currently comes under the purview of the Ministry of Women and Child Development,” says Singh.
Can parents ask for a specific child?
“Adoptive parents can have their preferences,” says Gupta. They can ask for a child of a particular age, religion and gender (only if the child is the first in the family).
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