Here’s how you can bring home a bundle of joy through adoption

Pic credit: CARA – www.adoptionindia.nic.in 

“We were nervous when we were to meet the judge for the first time since we weren’t sure what to expect. He welcomed us into his chambers and the first thing he said was, ‘I wanted to thank you for taking the bold step of adopting a child. I am sure you will give this child a better life than he would have got otherwise.’ We always felt that we were also getting a better life and explained that to the judge and he smiled. As much as we needed him, I think the little guy also needed parents, so it has worked out well for both of us.”

This is the story of Mahendra and Pavana (name changed), a couple living in Bannerghatta Road, Bengaluru. Once a couple decides to adopt a child, it brings in a lot of change emotionally and in the lifestyle.

Every year, a few orphaned, abandoned or surrendered children end up in orphanages that facilitate adoption, and can be adopted by following the procedures put in place by the Government of India.

A new addition to the family in the form of adoption is a big deal. Once the decision is made, mood swings between excitement and apprehension is normal. Seek suggestions from friends and family before deciding to adopt, as they form your support system later. It is important for the child to be accepted by everyone in the family; hence it is good to convince everyone to accept the idea of adoption, though it is you who will be taking care of the child.

When can one not adopt a child? What are the basic conditions?

  1. No child can be adopted by a couple unless they have at least two years of stable marital relationship.

  2. Couples in live-in relationships are not eligible to adopt a child.

  3. To adopt a child in the age group of 0-3 years, the maximum composite age of the parents should be 90 years, while the individual age of the either of the parent should not be less than 25 years and more than 50 years.

  4. To adopt children above three years of age, the maximum composite age of the parents is 105 years, while the individual age should not be less than 25 years and more than 55 years.

  5. In case a single parent desires to adopt, he or she should not be of age less than 30 years and above 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 three years.

  6. The parents should have adequate financial resources to provide a good upbringing for the child.

  7. The parents should have good health and should not be suffering from any contagious or terminal disease or any such mental or physical condition, which may prevent them from taking care of the child.

  8. Adoption of a second child is permissible only when the legal adoption of the first child has been finalised, but this is not applicable in case of siblings.

  9. An un-married or single male person is not permitted to adopt a girl child.

  10. Any orphan, abandoned or surrendered child can be adopted following due procedure laid down in the adoption Guidelines if such child is declared legally free for adoption by the Child Welfare Committee (CWC).

  11. Children undergo all health check-ups before the adoption process. Parents can also have the children checked by their doctor prior to adoption. There is a different category of adoption for children with special needs. Emphasis is laid on the extra needs of the child. Parents opting for kids from this category are made aware of the needs. They can adopt only if they are sure they can manage the needs.

  12. single parent has equal legal status to adopt a child and to deny him/her on the ground of his/her single status is not only a violation of his/her legal right, but also her constitutional right guaranteed under Article 14 and 15. Article 14 and 15 ensure that there is equality before law for everyone, and discrimination of anyone on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth is prohibited.

  13. Ensure that a child adopted is through an agency recognised by the Central Adoption Resource Authority. A child has to be legally free and a court order is necessary to complete the adoption process.It is not as simple as shown in old movies, where the hero takes up the responsibility of rearing an abandoned child just like that! The government has put in strict measures in place to ensure safety and stability for the child.

  14. Priority for the foreign nationals intending to adopt in India is as follows:

(i) Non Resident Indian (NRI)

(ii) Overseas Citizen of India (OCI)

(iii) Persons of Indian Origin (PIO)

(iv) Foreign Nationals.

How to begin the adoption process?

If you want to adopt a child in Bengaluru, this is where you have to go:

Adoption Coordinating Agency,
IYC Community Centre, 1st Cross,
2nd Block, RT Nagar,
Bangalore 560032
Ph: 65346724, 23435548

Click here to view a list of accredited adoption agencies.

Also refer to the CARA website.

Guidelines are laid down on the eligibility for adoption, the bottom line is simple. An individual who is financially and medically fit, with a strong family support system, can adopt a child. Information on who can adopt and the procedure for adoption is laid down fairly clearly in the guidelines of the Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA). The Dos and Don’ts are also listed.

The CARA website lists all the adoption agencies in India and the list of adoption agencies in Bangalore. CARA is an organisation that ensures all documentation is done and that all adoption agencies are legitimate. There were a lot of adoption centres that have been closed or had their licence withdrawn for not following prescribed procedures and norms. The agency will give the prescribed form and the list of documents that need to be submitted.

Once the decision has been made by the family, the first step would be to find an adoption agency to work with, preferably nearest to their place of residence. The Prospective Adoptive Parents (PAPs) also need to register—this is to ensure that PAPs are seeking adoption only through one agency.

In case the PAPs wish to adopt a child from a different state, they need to approach the State Adoption Resource Agency (SARA) of their state of residence. The SARA would then contact the SARA of the state that the PAPs wish to adopt from, and will transfer their name to that state’s waiting list.

What are the required documents?

Listed below are the documents that are typically required:

  1. Application form

  2. Self-Assessment form: To be filled separately for Husband / Wife.

  3. Income Certificate for both parents if applicable: It should indicate the length of service and position held (original). A salary certificate (original) along with attested copies of income tax returns for last two years. For self-employed persons, attested copies of income tax returns for last two years along with audited statement of accounts (original) need to be submitted and a copy of professional/business license may also be required.
    The CARA website indicates that PAPs should have a regular source of income, with a minimum average monthly income of at least Rs.3,000/- per month. However, lower income will be considered taking into account other assets and support system i.e. own house etc

  4. Investment Certificates: LIC policies, NSC, property documents, house tax receipt, or any other investments (attested copies).

  5. Health Report: Separate for husband, wife and children if any. Detailed report of any major surgery or illness occurred. HIV test reports (latest) in original for both husband and wife.
    In specific cases where a PAP is suffering from terminal illness, the decision to allow adoption rests with the judge, after weighing matters like ability to take care of the child, inevitable instability for the child and the support system of the family.

  6. Statement on Adoption (original): The statement jointly written by the couple on their decision on adoption. A childless couple should also indicate the reasons for childlessness and treatment taken.Couples adopting children out of choice need to submit why they chose to adopt. This document needs to be signed by parents.

  7. Reference letters (original): From three friends who know both the husband and wife for about 5 years or more. He/she should mention the full names of the couple and how he/she knows both. If there is any child living with the family, the same should also be mentioned. They have to describe the couple’s personality and why they are recommended as an adoptive couple.

  8. Marriage Certificate: Attested copy OR wedding invitation card.

  9. Proof of date of birth: Attested copy of School Leaving Certificate, Birth Certificate or Passport stating birth dates of both of you and child (if applicable).

  10. Educational Degree/Certificates (last qualification) attested copies.

  11. Undertaking letter: Prospective adoptive parents who are younger than 40 years of age need to submit an undertaking letter. The undertaking should preferably be given by a relative and a couple. The same needs to be signed by both persons on Rs 100 stamp paper and should be notarised. The following points need to be covered:

    1. The undertaking persons need to give basic information i.e. their names, ages, address, occupation, education, income, their family members (husband/wife/children etc.) and how they are related to the adoptive parents.

    2. If there is any unforeseen event- accident, death, illness, disability in the family, then the undertaking persons would take the responsibility as guardians of the birth child (if applicable) and the to-be-adopted child. If necessary, representatives from the agency may meet the undertaking persons at any mutually convenient time.

  12. Police Clearance Certificate: For husband and wife (original)

  13. Child Care Plans: Applicants need to jointly write on how they plan to take leave, the period and if both parents are working further plans of child care arrangements. Even if one parent is in the home the same should be stated.

  14. Photographs: One photograph of your home. Joint coloured photograph of husband, wife and child if any. (4 post card size copies each).

  15. Registration Fee as prescribed by the agency.

What is the process after the application and supporting documents are submitted?

  1. The applicant’s name goes on the waiting list.

  2. The documents will be scrutinised, applicants will be informed if any more documents or clarifications are required.

  3. This stage is the preliminary acceptance of the case for adoption.

  4. Home Visit and the Adoption Study (consists of informal interviews with prospective adoptive parents, by a professional social worker to get to know the adoptive parents and also clarify doubts applicants may have) reports will also be done by the agency concerned prior to approving a family for adoption.

  5. In some cases, the applicants are required to attend a Parent Preparation Workshop

  6. In most cases, there is a waiting period. In some cases, a couple of years depending on the waitlist and the fact that a child has to come up for adoption in that agency, and that due diligence and legal aspects need to be in place, before the child can be adopted. The parents are intimated when a child has come up for adoption.

  7. On acceptance of a child, an application for granting permission for adoption is filed in the Court and the child is placed under foster care with the adoptive parents for three to six months, for the purpose of adjustment. A contract is signed by the prospective adoptive parent for giving the agency regular reports and taking good care of the child. During this period a post placement visit/report is done. The agency will observe the adjustment and if proved satisfactory from the parents and child’s point of view, they finalise the adoption through the Court. For Hindu Adoption cases, further an Adoption Deed is executed.

  8. Paperwork necessary for the court is usually filed through a lawyer.

  9. On the date given by the court, the child and both parents have to have a discussion with the judge. In most cases the judge needs to be sure the parents can financially support the child and may suggest a recurring deposit in the child’s name till he/ she is 18.

  10. Next is the most awaited part of the court order and the birth certificate that has the names of the adoptive parents.

  11. In most cases, parents will still have to send progress reports once in three months, for a stipulated time, to the courts, to the adoption agency and the Indian Council for Social Welfare.

Once a child is adopted all legal processes that follow are the same as with a biological child for all issues such as religion of the child, inheritance laws etc. In case of divorce, the judge will decide who gets custody of the adopted child, or how it should be taken care of.

Recent reports suggest that there is only one child for six adoptive parents in waiting in Karnataka. With the decreasing number of kids adopted across the country, Woman and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi has announced recently that norms for adoption would be eased and that she would write to all Judges and Child Welfare Committees to minimise the delay in the process. It remains to be seen whether the agonising waiting period will be reduced by the NDA government at the Centre.

References:

(With inputs from Arvind Seshadri)

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About Josephine Joseph 46 Articles
Josephine Joseph researches and writes on urban governance, civic and environmental issues in Bangalore City, from a 'citizen' point of view.

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