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.
Legal Procedure. –
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).
(1) The specialised adoption agency shall file an application in the competent court with relevant documents as mentioned in Schedule- 8 within seven working days from the date of receipt of acceptance of the child by the prospective adoptive parents, for obtaining the adoption order from court and the specialised adoption agency shall enclose the documents in original along with the application.
(2) In case the child is from a child care institution, which is located in another District, the specialised adoption agency shall file the adoption petition in the concerned court of that district.
(3) The court will hold the adoption proceeding in-camera and dispose of the case within a period of two months from the date of filing of the adoption petition by the specialised adoption agency.
(4) The specialised adoption agency shall obtain a certified copy of the adoption order from the court and will forward it to the prospective adoptive parents within ten days, besides posting a copy of such order and making necessary entries in the Child Adoption Resource Information and Guidance System.
(5) Registration of a deed of adoption shall not be necessary.
(6) The specialised adoption agency shall obtain the birth certificate of the child from the birth certificate issuing authority and provide it to the prospective adoptive parents within ten days from the date of availability of adoption order, with the name of adoptive parents, as parents, and date of birth as recorded in the adoption order.