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Adoption in India

  • 22 Jun 2023
  • 7 min read

For Prelims: Adoption in India, Central Adoption Resource Authority, Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956, Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Amendment Act, 2021

For Mains: Laws Related to Adoption in India, Major Challenges Related to Adoption in India.

Why in News?

The Ministry of Women and Child Development has recently highlighted the significant backlog of adoption cases in Maharashtra, with the highest number of pending adoption cases in India (329 awaiting resolutions).

  • In January 2023, the Bombay HC directed the state government not to transfer pending adoption proceedings to District Magistrates, (as mandated under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Amendment Act, 2021), leading to confusion and hindering progress.

What is the Status of Child Adoption in India?

  • About:
    • It is a legal and emotional process that involves accepting the responsibility of caring for a child who is not biologically related to the adoptive parents.
    • The process of adoption in India is monitored and regulated by the Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA), which is part of the Ministry of Women and Child Care.
      • CARA is the nodal body for adoption of Indian children and is mandated to monitor and regulate in-country adoptions.
      • CARA is also designated as the Central Authority to deal with inter-country adoptions in accordance with the provisions of the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption, 1993, ratified by Government of India in 2003.
  • Laws Related to Adoption in India:
    • Adoptions in India are governed by two laws: the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956 (HAMA) and the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015.
      • Both laws have their separate eligibility criteria for adoptive parents.
    • Those applying under the JJ Act have to register on CARA’s portal after which a specialised adoption agency carries out a home study report.
      • After it finds the candidate eligible for adoption, a child declared legally free for adoption is referred to the applicant.
    • Under HAMA, a “dattaka hom” ceremony or an adoption deed or a court order is sufficient to obtain irrevocable adoption rights.
      • Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, and Sikhs are legalized to adopt kids under this Act.
  • Recent Development:
    • The Parliament passed the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Amendment Act, 2021 in order to amend the Juvenile Justice Act (JJ Act), 2015.
      • The key changes include authorising District Magistrates and Additional District Magistrates to issue adoption orders under Section 61 of the JJ Act.
        • Earlier in JJ Act 2015, adoption of a child is final on the issuance of an adoption order by the civil court.
    • The Ministry of Women and Child Development has introduced the Adoption Regulations-2022, which has streamlined the adoption process.
      • District Magistrates (DMs) and Child Welfare Committees have been directed to upload adoption orders and case status in real time.
      • Since the implementation of the Adoption Regulations-2022, 2,297 adoption orders have been issued by DMs nationwide, resolving a significant portion of pending cases.

What are the Major Challenges Related to Adoption in India?

  • Lengthy and Complex Adoption Process: The adoption process in India can be lengthy, bureaucratic, and complex, leading to delays in the placement of children with suitable families.
    • India’s tedious and interminable adoption process can clearly be seen in the statistics with the CARA which states that while more than 30,000 prospective parents are currently waiting to adopt, less than 7% the number of children — 2131— are legally free for adoption.
    • Around two-third of them are children with special needs, and it takes three years for an adoption process to complete.
  • Illegal and Unregulated Practices: Unfortunately, there are instances of illegal and unregulated adoption practices in India. This includes baby trafficking, child-selling, and the existence of unregistered adoption agencies, which exploit vulnerable children and biological parents.
    • In 2018, Ranchi’s Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity came under fire for its “baby-selling racket” after a nun from the shelter confessed to selling four children.
  • Returning Children after Adoption: India also faces an unusual upsurge in adoptive parents returning children after adopting.
    • In 2020, CARA stated that over 1,100 children adopted across the country have been returned to child care institutions by their adoptive parents in the last five years.

Way Forward

  • Strengthening Adoption Laws: There is a need to review and update adoption laws to streamline the process, make it more transparent, and ensure the best interests of the child.
    • This includes simplifying paperwork, reducing delays, and addressing any loopholes or ambiguities in the existing legislation.
  • Post-Adoption Services: There is a need to establish comprehensive post-adoption support services to assist both adoptive parents and adopted children.
    • This can include counselling, educational support, access to healthcare, and guidance for managing any challenges that arise during the adoption journey.
  • Awareness and Education: There is a need to promote awareness about adoption as a viable option for building families.
    • It includes educating the public about the benefits, procedures, and legal aspects of adoption. Also, encouraging positive attitudes towards adoption and dispel misconceptions or stigma associated with it.

Source: IE

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