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Law For The Layperson: Adoption Rules In India

Posted: August 28, 2010

Part of our Law For The Layperson series, this article on Adoption Rules In India is one of a set of articles that aims to provide basic legal information on issues of interest to Indian women.

(While we try to keep the information here as relevant and updated as possible, law is a complex subject and errors are possible. The information here is therefore not meant as a substitute for legal advice. If you find any errors or wish to suggest any additions, feel free to contact us.) 

While informal adoptions have always existed, legal adoption has been gaining popularity in India in the last decades. People adopt a child for a variety of reasons such as difficulty with having a biological child or simply the desire to bring home a child who doesn’t otherwise have a family.

Laws related to the child adoption process in India

The adoption procedure in India is governed by specific legislations that are applicable depending on the religion of the person who wants to adopt (called the ‘adopter’) a child (who is the ‘adoptee’). There are two major adoptions laws that apply to adopters in India:

The Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956 (HAMA) 

This act deals with the adoption process for all Hindus in India. For legal purposes under this Act, a Hindu is defined as any person who is a Hindu, Buddhist, Jain, Brahmo, Sikh, Prarthna or Arya Samaji. An important condition of this Act is that if a couple already has a biological child, they can only adopt children belonging to the opposite sex (i.e. a girl if they already have a boy and vice versa). All cases related to adoption are handled by the city civil courts under this Act.

The Guardianship and Wards Act, 1890 

This Act gives complete guardianship authority to all non-Hindus such as Christians, Muslims, Parsis and Jews who are also governed by their own religious personal laws. In this case, while the adoptive parents are conferred guardianship status, the adopted child does not automatically get inheritance rights. As per this law, guardians need to submit an investment plan and also invest a certain amount of money in the name of the ward for his/her future security. The adoption cases under this Act are handled by the High court or Family courts.

Who can adopt a child 

Any single woman or married couple is eligible to adopt. A single male is usually not eligible to adopt a child in India (although widowers and divorcees are allowed to). The minimum age of the adopter has to be 21 years.

Additionally, if a child is less than one year old, the couple can have a maximum combined age of 90 years and neither parent can be older than 45 years.

Adoption procedure in India

There are several steps involved in the adoption procedure. First, a formal application form has to be filled out by the interested person/ couple at a certified adoption agency. (It is important to contact such an agency; not every children’s home is authorized to offer children for adoption, nor are hospitals, nursing home or religious institutions without such certification).

Then, a social worker representing the agency observes the living conditions of the couple. Their daily activities are monitored to make sure that they are capable of handling an adopted child. Some other aspects such as their family background, financial status, mental and emotional health, quality of marital life etc. are also noted.

After this is completed, a No Objection Certificate (NOC) is issued to the adoption agency by the Central Adoption Resource Agency (CARA). This is an agency under the Ministry of Women and Child development (GOI). A copy of some documents such a health certificate, marriage certificate, financial statements, bank references, photographs of the person/ couple etc. have to be submitted.

Finally after all these formalities are completed, the adoption agency shows the child to the prospective parent (s). They may have given some preferences about the child they wish to adopt (in terms of age or gender) and the agency tries to find a child according to those preferences.

Other practical sources of help

CARA: http://www.adoptionindia.nic.in.

Catalysts for Social Action: http://csa.org.in/

iChild, India Adoption Resources: http://www.ichild.org/

Atmaja, Association for Adoptive Parents (West Bengal): http://www.atmaja.org.in/

SuDatta, Association for Adoptive Parents (Bangalore): http://www.sudatta.org/

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  1. Very useful post! I was just about hunting for this. Gave me avenues for preliminary steps!

  2. Glad to know you found it useful, Hiyaa. We will be putting up more such posts in the Resources section.

  3. Thanks for putting up this post especially adding other reliable links with more info. 🙂

  4. i need a legal advise for adoption of my neiece who is with me since birth.my sister is expired.my bother in law is not willing to keep any relation with child.i need detail procedure.the child is a girl of age eight.she thinks me as her mom.


    Dear sir,
    are there any possibilities tocancel adoption,if the adopter is not alive.
    & the child’s parents are alive.

  6. Arindrajit Gupta -

    I myself and my wife want to adopt a child please inform us what to do? Arindrajit Gupta & Rina Gupta..Siliguri,West Bengal email id guptaslg@yahoo.co.in phone no:9733411722


  8. My self and husband want to adopt a childand give him or her we will give secured and parental care to that child..

  9. i a engg student in kolkata . anyone adopt me… please contact me 9093061023

  10. Harpreet Kaur -

    I am a divorcee with a two and half years old baby boy. We are altogether three sisters. I want to give my child in adoption to my parents. Can that be done without the consent of my Ex-husband? Kindly suggest…. And also the procedure of adoption. I mean do i have to file a petition in the Court?

  11. I’m a graduate boy age 33 ,my parents kicked me from home 12 years ago.Now I want to get adopted by a lady aged 50 yrs approx. who cares me as her child.she is single and now needs caring as her health is not so good to live alone.She arranged my marriage with her relative circle.also she wants me as her representative after her to look after her organization.Please suggest me.

  12. A person who has age around 65 year & he has taken one male child from any other places . He has already two daughter & both are married. He has no any NOC that issued by CARA (Central adoption research agency). Is this matter illegal or not illegal.

  13. hi im single i want to adopt a child .please guild me or please mail me

  14. Can a couple having a special child go for adaption

  15. Is a couple already having two children, allowed to adopt another one

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