How to Adopt a Child in India: Process and Laws

Adoption is a process of rearing a child and bringing it up as one’s own. In India, adoption is the process of establishing a person who is not the child’s real parent as a parent. Adoption is a social, legal, and emotional process through which a child is not raised by birth parents but by his legal parents or foster parents. The adopted child receives all the privileges, rights, and responsibilities of adoptive parents.

In India, child adoption has been observed since ancient India. However, the trend of adopting a child is increasing.

Child adoption was earlier considered taboo in Indian society. By contrast, adoption is discussed freely in Indian Society. This article delineates the process of child adoption in India.

There can be many reasons for the adoption of a child. The common reason that leads to an increase in child adoption is either the parents are incapable of having their child, or the parents are interested in providing support to a child living in an orphanage and giving him a better life.

Eligibility to adopt a child in India

The adoption process in India is monitored by the Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA), which is also a part of the Ministry of Women and Child Care. CARA is a nodal agency monitoring and regulating intercountry adoption. CARA maintains necessary records and details the process of adopting a child in India?

Parents should comply with certain conditions to be eligible to adopt a child:

  • An Indian child can be adopted by an Indian Citizen, an non-resident Indian (NRI) or a foreigner. However, the adoption procedure is different for all of them.
  • Any person can adopt a child irrespective of their gender or marital status.
  • When a couple is willing to adopt a child, they should have completed two years of marriage, and both of them should be willing to adopt a child.
  • The age difference between the child adopted, and the parent should be 25 years.

Eligibility for adoption of a child

Eligibility for adoption of a child is as follows:

  • According to the guidelines of the Central Government, a child can only be eligible for adoption when he is an orphan, surrendered, or abandoned. He/she should be declared legally free for adoption by the Child Welfare Committee.
  • A child without a legal parent or guardian is considered an orphan. The child can also get considered an orphan when the child’s parents cannot take care of their child anymore.
  • A child is considered abandoned when parents or guardians desert him/her. The Child Welfare Committee must declare such children as abandoned.
  • A child is considered to be surrendered if he is relinquished on physical, social, or emotional factors beyond the control of parents or the guardian.
  • A child can only be adopted when he is legally free. On receipt of an abandoned child, the District Child Protection Unit disperses the child’s photograph with his details in the newspaper and any other source that attracts public attention. If a child’s parents are non-traceable, the child is considered abandoned.

Conditions for eligibility by parents

CARA’s eligibility criteria for parents to adopt a child in India can be understood by going through the following conditions set for the parents:

  • The adoptive parents should be physically, mentally, and emotionally stable.
  • The adoptive parents should be financially stable.
  • Adoptive parents should not suffer from any life-threatening diseases.
  • A couple who already has three or more children cannot adopt any other child. This situation can be relaxed in the case of a specially abled child.
  • A single female can adopt a child of any gender. However, a male individual can only adopt a male child.
  • At the time of child adoption, a single parent should not be more than 55 years.
  • The cumulative age of an adoptive couple should not be more than 110 years of age.
  • The age of adoptive parents for registration should be as per CARA guidelines.

How to adopt a child in India

In India, many laws govern the process of adoption. The CARA oversees the adherence to this law.

Procedure for the adoption of a child is as follows:

Step 1: Registration

Parents wishing to adopt a child have to register themselves with an authorised agency. Two registered agencies, namely Recognized Indian Placement Agencies (RIPA) and Special Adoption Agency (SAA), are allowed to make the registration. To understand the procedure for adopting a child, the adoptive parents can visit the nearest social worker office.

The social worker office, not the procedure for adoption, explains the formalities and paperwork and will also prepares the registration.

Online registration for adoption can get done at CARA.

Step 2: Home study and counselling

A social worker from the registration agency visits the house of the prospective adoptive parent. The agency visits the house to know more about the upbringing the would-be parents can provide. At times, the agency may counsel parents. Counselling is performed to understand the adoptive parents’ strengths, weaknesses, and preparation. As per CARA regulation, the home study should be completed within 3 months from the date of registration. The report from the sessions is presented before the court.

Step 3: Referral of the child

After completing the home study and counselling and presenting the report before the court, the agency should intimidate the couple whenever a child is ready for adoption.

The agency then shares medical reports, physical examination reports, and other information related to the child with the couple. The agency allows the parents to spend time with the child after being comfortable with the details shared with them.

Step 4: Acceptance of the child

When the parents are comfortable with the child, they sign the document confirming the acceptance of the child.

Step 5: Filing of petition

After the child’s acceptance, every relevant document is given to an advocate, who prepares the petition presented in the court. When the petition is ready and submitted in the court, the adoptive parents should visit the court and sign the document in front of the court officer.

Step 6: Pre-adoptive foster care

Pre-adoptive foster care can be seen as understanding the child’s habits from the nursing staff who cared for the child. It is done after signing the document in court.

Step 7: Court order

After showing the court’s investment receipt, the judge passes an adoption order.

Step 8: Follow up

After completing the procedure of the child’s adoption, a report is submitted to the court about the well being of the child. Such follow ups may continue for 1-2 years after adoption.

Can parents ask for a specific child?

No prospective parent can ask for any of the specific children. The parents can give their preference but cannot specify the child. The preference can include:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Skin colour
  • Health condition
  • Religion

In case of the health condition, parents have the liberty to specify if they are interested in adopting a child with any disability.

In case when the preference is specified, matching the preference may take time. Preferences also reduce the options of kids available for adoption.

Laws governing adoption in India

Legislation is the crucial aspect for adopting a child in India.

In India, the adoption of a child is not governed by personal laws. Muslims, Christians, Parsis and Jews in India take the guardianship of a child under the Guardians and Wards Act, 1890.

The law for adoption in Hindu is different. In the case of Hindus, which includes the Hindu, Jain, Sikhs, or Buddhist as per the definition of Hindu under Hindu laws, the religious law applied to Hindus is applicable. The law for the Hindu Religion that covers Hindu Adoption is the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956. The speciality of the act is that it does not provide any of the religious ritual to be performed for adoption. However, this act provides a secular way of adoption: the giving and taking of the child.

The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000 confers the status between the adopted child and the adoptive parents as parent and child and not as guardian and ward.

Documents required for adopting a child

The following documents are required for adopting a child:

  • Identity proof such as Voter ID, PAN card, driving licence, passport address proof
  • Application of adoption
  • 4 ✕ 6 size photograph and four copies of husband and wife together
  • Marriage certificate
  • Reason for adoption
  • Latest HIV and Hepatitis B reports of the couple
  • Letter of recommendation by three people. These three people should not be immediate spouses.
  • Any other document that the agency or court requires.


India is a large country with a large population; however, unwanted children are more among this large population. However, a child is the country’s biggest asset. Adopting a child is one such act that people should perform on a large scale.

The upbringing of a child is the collective responsibility of the nation. Even if a child is abandoned, neglected, or surrendered, the child has the right to live his life with dignity. Thus, every child is given the right to adoption. Legislation provides the process for adopting a child in India, and CARA deals with adoption in India.


What is meant by adoption?

Adoption is a process by which the adopted child becomes the lawful child of the adoptive parents. The adoptive child has all the rights, responsibilities, and privileges of a biological child.

What is the age limit for the child to be adopted?

A child to be adopted can be a maximum of 18 years. However, the child’s consent to be adopted is required when the child is 7 years of age.

What is CARA?

Central Adoption Resource Authority or CARA is a part of the Ministry of Women and Child Care. CARA deals with the process of adoption in India.

What is the role of the Specialized Adoption Agency?

Specialized Adoption Agency is the institute recognised by the Government of India to keep adoptable children.

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