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Simply put: What it takes to adopt a child in India today

Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity has stopped adoption services at its homes over new rules that allow adoption by single parents. The guidelines hurt their conscience, and are not for religious people, the Missionaries have said.

Written by Abantika Ghosh | Published: October 12, 2015 12:23:45 am
single parent, single parent adoption, child adoption, Missionaries of Charity, Women and Child Development Minister, Maneka Gandhi, Missionaries adoption homes, WCD ministers, Juvenile Justice, Juvenile Justice Bill, CWC, indian express Mother Teresa cradles an armless baby girl at an orphanage of the Missionaries of Charity in Kolkata in 1978. (Source: AP Archive)

When were the new rules notified?

The changed adoption norms were to have been part of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Bill, 2014, but the law was stuck, first over the controversial provision to try heinous offenders aged between 16 and 18 years under provisions of the Indian Penal Code, and then because of continuous disruptions in Parliament. About four months ago, the Ministry of Women & Child Development decided to notify the changed rules under the existing Act.

Who is eligible to adopt in India?

Prospective adoptive parents should be physically, mentally and emotionally stable, financially capable, motivated to adopt a child, and should not have any life threatening medical condition. Marital status or a biological child is not a bar, though a single male cannot adopt a girl child. A married couple has to have been in a stable marital relationship for at least two years. The maximum age of the couple or single parent will depend on the age of the child, but no couple whose cumulative age is more than 110 years can adopt, nor can a single parent aged 55 years or more. The minimum age difference between the child and either of the adoptive parents should not be less than 25 years.

Watch Video: Missionaries of Charity Discontinue Adoptions Due To Single Parent Norm

When is a child eligible to be adopted?

A child has to be declared legally free to be adopted before he/she is shown to a couple for adoption. When an abandoned child is found, the District Child Protection Unit has to advertise the particulars and photograph of the child in a state-level newspaper with a wide circulation within 72 hours of receiving the child. The local police have to submit a report about the non-traceability of the child’s parents. The Child Welfare Committee declares the child legally free for adoption as per laid down procedures.

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What is the procedure for adoption?

Prospective adoptive parents have to register online with the Child Adoption Resource Information and Guidance System. The home study report that looks at the couple’s family, circumstances etc., has to be prepared by the adoption agency. It remains valid for two years, and forms the basis of any adoption attempts that the couple make during that period. Parents are given the chance to adopt on a first registered, first served basis. They are shown photographs, child study reports and medical examination reports of up to six children in their preferred category. The process of matching must be finished in 15 days.

What is pre-adoption foster care?

The process of adoption is legal, and requires the order of a court. However, once matching and all other preliminary formalities have been completed, the prospective adoptive parents can take the child into foster care within 10 days of the date of acceptance. They have to sign an undertaking for foster care, and abide by the conditions laid down in the relevant form.

What are the legal formalities for adoption?

An adoption petition is filed in court by the adoption agency. There is a directive that adoption proceedings have to be completed within two hearings, and the petition has to be disposed of within two months of filing of the petition. The certified copy of the order has to be obtained by the agency within 10 days. The agency must also obtain the birth certificate of the child, with the names of the adoptive parents.

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