Who can be adopted?

Non Resident India families can adopt children who don't have a family to care for them, are living in an authorised orphanage, and are approved for international adoption by the Indian authorities. Most of the children in the orphanages have been relinquished by unwed mothers or by families too poor to care for them. For cultural reasons, most are girls. As in most developing countries, some families in India struggle with providing basic needs for their children. Poverty, difficult social circumstances and lack of opportunity conspire against families often resulting in great need for some children. The orphanages provide the children with access to resources, schooling and good medical services.

We can help couples or singles who are non-resident Indians (NRIs), with Indian passports and PR visas for adoptive parents, and couples or singles who have an OCI card (Overseas Citizen of India) to adopt children under 5 years, as well as school aged children. We can help couples or singles without Indian heritage to adopt children from 5 to 10+ years of ageora younger child (under 5) with a definite medical need. It's sometimes possible to adopt sibling groups aged between 4 and 14 years consisting of 2 or 3 children from one family.

Availability of child for adoption
As soon as a child is declared legally free for adoption by the Child Welfare Committee, such child may be allowed to be given in adoption to a resident Indian or non-resident Indian parents:
Provided that such child shall be allowed to be given in inter-country adoption ―
- after sixty days, if the child is below five years of age;
- after thirty days, if the child is above five years of age or is a sibling;
- after fifteen days, if the child has any mental or physical disability.

Who can adopt?

You can adopt if:

  • Approved by your Central Authority after assessment by AFSCYF
  • Either married with at least 2 years stable marriage relationship, no more than 1 divorce OR Single women (including those never married, those who are widowed, or divorced). India will not allow the adoption of a child by a gay or lesbian person
  • Healthy (no significant physical or mental health issues)
    To adopt a child under 3 years, aged 25-50 years if a couple, with combined parents’ ages under 90.
  • To adopt a child over 3 years, aged 25-55 years if a couple, with combined parent's ages under 105.
  • Singles - aged 30 - 50 and if the child is under 3 years, the mother must be no more than 45 years old.
  • Priority applicants - those of Indian heritage with Indian passports (NRIs) or OCI cards have priority and may apply for infants (0-2) toddlers (2-3) or preschoolers (3-5 years), as well as school aged children. This does not exclude others - you'll be offered older children without medical needs, or child of any age with medical needs. Non-Indian couples must apply for a child from one of the categories listed under thedefinition of "special needs children", which includes older children over 5 and sibling groups without significant medical needs.
  • Contact your agency to discuss your situation as each case is considered individually and the above generalised requirements can vary.

Who's involved in the process?

The local orphanages that are authorised to care for abandoned children and match them with overseas parents for adoption are called RIPAs -Recognised Indian Placement Agencies.

Foreign agencies are authorised to represent those who want to adopt in India are known as an Authorised Foreign Adoption Agency (AFAA). The role of AFAAs is described on the Indian Central Authority website.

Adoptions between your country and India are conducted according to the Hague Convention. The Indian Government Central Authority responsible for adoption is CARA (Central Adoption Resource Agency). CARA must approve each adoption as well as approve each local and foreign organisation working in adoption.

How do I adopt?

  • Pre-register with the agency on-line. They will send you more detailed information, give you access to your Members only page on this website, and keep you informed of any changes for Indian adoption
  • Choose either AFS or CYF to provide education/assessment/homestudy services.
  • Undergo an assessment with AFS or CYF to gain approval from the agency to adopt from India.
  • Register fully adoption programme with India. We'll prepare your application and liaise with CARA on your behalf to adopt a child
  • We'll inform you about the child matched to you by a RIPA after we've gained approval from CARA and the agency.
  • We'll liaise with the RIPA to process your application through the Indian court. Your adoption will be finalised under the IndianJuvenile Justice Amendment Act
  • Travel to India, for about 14-16 days. On arriving in India, you will collect your child and complete exit formalities. We'll have guided you through this process before you go to India.
  • After you arrive back in your country with your child, a social worker from the agency will come to your home to write post placement reports for 2 years. We'll send these back to the child's former caregivers, CARA and the court.

How long will it take?

Timing is variable. Recent applicants have been matched at 3 -12 months after applying.
Indian adoption processes have changed significantly over the past ten years.

What legislation will my adoption be done under?

The Civil Court in India will make a Court Order under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act 2000. This act defines adoption as "the process through which the adopted child is permanently separated from his biological parents and become the legitimate child of his adoptive parents with all the rights, privileges and responsibilities that are attached to the relationship".

Who is allowed to adopt a child?

In India, an Indian, Non Resident Indian (NRI), or a foreign citizen may adopt a child. There are specific guidelines and documentation for each group of prospective adoptive parents. A single female or a married couple can adopt a child. In India, a single male is usually not eligible to be an adoptive parent. An exception to this rule is the noted dance instructor Sandip Soparrkar, who has recently adopted a young boy. This is a special case rather than the norm. A single man desiring to adopt a child may be eligible if he applies through a registered agency. However, he will still only be able to adopt a male child.

What are the conditions to be fulfilled by an adoptive parent?

An adoptive parent should be medically fit and financially able to care for a child. A person wishing to adopt a child must be at least 21 years old. There is no legal upper age limit for parents but most adoptive agencies set their own benchmarks with regard to age. For a child who is less than a year old, the adoptive parents can have a maximum combined age of 90 years. Also, neither parent must be older than 45 years.

In the case of adoption of older children, the age of the parents may be relaxed accordingly. For example, for a one-year-old child, the age limit is 46 years, for a two-year-old child, it is 47 years and so on. The upper age limit for an adopted child is 12 years while for an adoptive parent it is 55 years. In the case of an adopted child withspecial needs, the age limit may be relaxed marginally by the state government, depending on the evaluation of the case. However, in all cases, the age of the parent cannot exceed 55 years.

What are the laws governing adoption?

Foreign citizens, NRIs, and those Indian nationals who are Muslims, Parsis, Christians or Jews are subject to the Guardian and Wards Act of 1890. Under this act, the adoptive parent is only the guardian of the child until she reaches 18 years of age.

Foreign citizens and NRIs are supposed to formally adopt their child according to the adoption laws and procedures in the country of their residence. This must be carried out within two years of the individual becoming a child's guardian. There is also a Juvenile Justice Act of 2000, a part of which deals with adoption of children by non-Hindu parents. However, this act is applicable only to children who have been abandoned orabusedand not to those children who have been voluntarily put up for adoption.

Can a parent ask for a specific child?

An adoptive parent is allowed to ask for a child, as per her preferences. For example, a parent may ask for a child of a certain age, gender (if it is the first child in the family), skin colour, religion, special features, health condition, etc. However, greater the specifications, more difficult it is to find a child who conforms to them. This restricts the pool of children available for adoption.

Depending on the adoptive parent's desired details, children are scrutinised to find a suitable match. When a child with the desired characteristics is found, she is shown to the prospective parents. In case the parents are unhappy with the selection, about two more children with the same characteristics may be presented to the parents.

The entire adoption process takes some months to complete. However, when all the hurdles are cleared, you are ready to welcome your new child to the family.