If you are thinking of adopting a child, there are probably a million questionsÂ running through your mind. And this post serves to answer them all.
What you need to know at the onset
Adoption laws were changed in August 2015 with the hope that it would beÂ easierÂ for people to adoptÂ children who need a loving home and family. However, data on the CARA (Central Adoption Resource Authority) website indicates that this has not been the trend. In 2010 the number of in-country adoptions was 5693 and in 2015-16 the adoptions were a dismal 3011. Adoption rates have actually come down.
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Are you eligible to adopt a child?
- If you are a single woman or a married couple you are allowed to adopt a child. Single males are still not allowed to adopt.Â There was anÂ exception made recentlyÂ and a single male was allowed to adopt a child under special circumstances. However, he can adopt only a male child.
- If you are an Indian, NRI or a foreigner you can adopt children from India. The documentation and rules will differ for each category.
- You have to be mentallyÂ and physically capable of looking after a child. The cumulative age of a couple looking to adopt a child cannot be over 110 years and you should be married for aÂ minimum of 2 years.
- If you are going to be a single parent, you cannot be over 55 years of age.
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The Old and the New
The new adoption reforms have been lauded by some while others feel it still leaves a lot to be desired.
- Registered parentsÂ are added to a national waiting list. The earlier state-wise registration limited the pool of children available for adoption. CouplesÂ were kept waiting for almost two years. With a national list in place, the waitingÂ time has been shortened to almost 6 months.
- Now there is a flat processing fee of Rs. 46,000 leviedÂ across the country.Â This has been putÂ in place to curbÂ the “donations “Â and corrupt adoption agencies sprouting around the country. The flip side is that it may not be possible for some couples to come up with the Rs.46,000Â processing fees. Does this reform meanÂ that only people with a certain level of income can adopt?
- The new adoption law doesn’t permit the parents to meet the prospective children. Photographs and medical records are all that you get to chose the addition to your family. Adoption is a big step for a family. Earlier, the parents were allowed to meet the babies and chose from babiesÂ shortlisted as per their preferences. For Swara Dutta who adopted pre-reforms, it was a huge decision. Years of failed IVF sessions left her emotionally, physically and financiallyÂ drained. ” When my husband and I decided to adopt a baby, it was a big step for us and we were very apprehensive. I walked into the adoption agency not sure what to expect.Â A little baby girl who was a month old stared at me with her big round eyes giving me a half toothless smile. We immediately fell in love with her.” The new reforms make it very impersonal. Adoption of a baby is an extremely personal and emotional process.
- What does this changed adoption law mean for the children? When adoption agency workers were part of the process, they could persuade couples to adopt kids who were either older (they have a lesser chance of being adopted) or had special needs or are siblings. But now that it’s all part of an online process and that personal touch is lost.
- One of the biggest positives of the adoption reform has been the pre-adoption counselling that the parents receive. Should they tell their child that he/she is adopted? These sessions were not part of the earlier law.
What is the procedure for adoption?
- You will need to upload all your information and documentation on the CARA website.
- A home study will be done to check on the family history and home circumstances. This report will be valid for two years.
- Parents will be sent pictures and medical recordsÂ of three children. The selection list is on the basis of the preferences that the parents gave at the time of registration. The matching process must be completed withinÂ 2 days.
- The parents will be allowed to meet the child only once the selection process is complete and within 15 days declare whether they would like to proceed with the adoption or not.
- The new reforms follow the principle of “first registered, first served”.
- If selected, a pre-adoption foster care agreement must be filed with the court of jurisdiction of the agency. Once completed, the parents can take the child home immediately after the time of registration of this affidavit. The actual adoption process and formal custody of the child requires approval from the court of law and follows local timelines of the family courts involved. RohanÂ Vyavaharkar who has veryÂ recently adopted a baby says, â€œ We adopted in Bihar and even though the baby is home with us, it’sÂ a foster home technically. We are dependent on the court to give us the final verdict. It could take upto a year for the decision to come. There is also a chance that after all that time the judge could reject our application and tell us to return the baby to the adoption agency”.
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Adoption was always an option if you couldn’t conceive. But now the times have changed and there are more and more people who are consciously wanting to adopt a child instead ofÂ producingÂ one of their own “tummy babies”. Sneha SrivastavaÂ who lives in Maryland, U.S.A has a 12-year-old daughter. A fewÂ months ago she adopted aÂ 6-year-old boy from India. The reason forÂ her decision? “I wanted to give a childÂ a second chance at life and wanted this innocent little boy to become a part of a loving family – something that everyone deserves”.
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