Adoption is the act whereby a person or a married couple legally assumes the role of parenting a child, who is not their own. The child may or may not be biologically related to the adoptive parent or parents. There is an increasing trend in India for the adoption of children. It is not that only the parents who are incapable of conceiving a child are eligible for adoption. The guidelines issued by the government of India allow any person irrespective of their sex or marital status to adopt in India. However, some reasonable restrictions have been imposed by the government, giving utmost importance to the welfare of the child.
Adoption laws in India are laid down by CARA (Central Adoption Research Authority) guidelines. CARA is a central statutory body, operational under Ministry of Women and Child Development which looks into matters of adoption. Personal laws in India to a certain extent are also instrumental in monitoring adoption. The Hindu Personal Laws allow adoption through Hindu Adoptions And Maintenance Act (1956). However, it is allowed only if the child to be adopted is of the opposite sex to the child that a married couple may already have biologically.
According to the guidelines issued by CARA, Indian citizens, non-resident Indians, and Foreign Nationals can adopt a child in India. There should be a minimum age gap of 25 years of the child with the parents. The following people are eligible for adoption in India:
- Married Couple (with the consent of both the spouses)
- Single Woman
- Single Man (not allowed to adopt a girl child)
Apart from the criteria mentioned above, it is essential that the prospective adoptive parents are physically, mentally and financially stable.
Steps to adopting a child under CARA in India
Adoptions in India can be of two types: in-country and intercountry, depending on the location of the adoptive parents. The adoption procedure includes a number of steps that the prospective parents have to undergo, as per the CARA guidelines.
- Prospective adoptive parents have to register on CARINGS (Child Adoption Resource Information and Guidance System) through the online portal.
- Adoption agencies conduct a home survey process to prepare the Home Survey Report (HSR) within 30 days of registration. This report determines the suitability of the prospective parents.
- If the parents are found suitable, they are eligible to give their preference of the child they want to adopt (sex, the color of skin, region, etc.). After that, they have referred a child who they can select.
- After selection, the Specialized Adoption Agency gives the child to the prospective parents for a certain number of days as foster care, before filing for a court order for adoption.
- Once the court order is issued, the adoption procedure is complete. The final step involves follow up of the adoption, to make sure that the child is comfortable with her/his new parents.
Cost of Child Adoption in India
The cost of child adoption in India, also known as the adoption fee is the amount of money that prospective adoptive parents have to pay to adopt a child. This cost for adoption a child is fixed by the CARA guidelines and is according to the various components and steps involved in the adoption procedure. The payment of fees during the adoption process is made for the various stages in the process:
- During registration,
- At the time of the Home Survey Report, and
- For Child Care Corpus fees(CCC)
The rationale behind charging of the adoption fee is the smooth running of the system for taking care of other orphaned or abandoned children in the country. The Government has to give substantial importance to the welfare of the child.
This fee structure applies to both in the country and inter-country adoption. However, the amount of the fees charged in case of inter-country adoption is higher than that of in-country adoption.
Cost of Child Adoption (In-country)
As of 2017, for in-country adoption, the total fees that can be charged by CARA amount to a little over Rs 45,000. the components of this sum of money can be divided as:
- 1000 during registration,
- 5000 for Home Survey Report,
- 40,000 as childcare corpus fee, and
- 2000 for each post-adoption follow-up.
However, many-a-times the cost of adoption may exceed the above-stipulated fee laid down in CARA guidelines. This is because adoption agencies may expect payment of ‘donation’ from prospective parents for the adoption process. The government has banned any such request and payment of ‘donation’ to the adoption agencies.
Cost of Child Adoption (Inter-country)
India is a signatory to the Hague Adoption Convention (1995). Therefore, abandoned or orphaned children from India can be adopted in other countries. The fee for adoption from India in case the parents are not residents or citizens of India is comparatively higher than the cost of adoption for resident prospective parents. For intercountry adoptions, parents are expected to pay a sum of 5000 USD.
Controversies regarding hike of an adoption fee
Adoption Agencies in India have sought a revision of the fee amount and structure that has not been updated in a considerable number of years. It becomes next to impossible for adoption agencies to grant adoptions at no cost. Lack of funds for adoption agencies often leads to neglect of healthcare and welfare of children. Therefore they have demanded a hike in the cost of adoption and legalization of the ban placed on ‘donations’.
Every child deserves a kind and loving family. Through adoption, it becomes possible for abandoned or orphaned children to achieve the most basic form of their human rights. The fee for the adoption of children in India may be of reasonable significance, but the impact that the act of adoption has on society is immense. It is only through caring and nurturing the children of today that we will be able to build a more progressive society in India, where every child can get equal opportunity to pursue his/her dreams.