With increasing deaths due to COVID-19, citizens are using social media to appeal for the adoption of orphaned children. You should know that this is illegal. Instead, if you encounter such a case, please dial Childline Number 1098 to pass on information about children in need of care and protection.
What is the punishment for not following the legal procedure for adoption?
If any person or organisation gives or receives any orphan for adoption without following the law, they are punishable with jail time for up to three years and/or a fine of Rupees one lakh.
What is the proper legal procedure to adopt a child in India?
You first need to check your eligibility to adopt a child, and check whether the child in question can be adopted. Your application for adoption will go through various stages, as mentioned below:
Step 1: Register on the CARA (Central Adoption Resource Authority) website here. It will redirect you to the Child Adoption Resource Information and Guidance System (CARINGS) where you can fill your application details such as your personal details, employment details, etc.
Step 2: After registration, submit relevant documents as part of your application. See here to understand which documents you need to submit. After you fill out the application, you will get an acknowledgement slip.
Step 3: You can track the status of your application with the registration number given on the acknowledgement slip.
Step 4: The CARA or Specialized Adoption Agency (SAA) will conduct a home study to decide whether you are eligible to adopt a child.
Step 5: CARA or SAA will inform you whether your application has been accepted or rejected. In case your application is rejected, the reasons will be posted on CARINGS, and you can appeal against that decision to Children’s Court. You can find the appeal procedure here.
Step 6: If your application is accepted, on the basis of your seniority, the SAA will refer three children to you through CARINGS. You can choose one child for possible adoption within 48 hours after which the concerned authority will fix a meeting to assess suitability. Within 20 days of this process, if you do not accept the child you have chosen, the system will move your name to the bottom of the seniority list.
Step 7: Within ten days of your selection of a child, you need to take in the child in pre-adoption foster care, making you the child’s foster parents. This happens while the adoption approval order is pending from the Court. You must sign the undertaking given here before taking in the child.
Step 8: The SAA (or other relevant authority) will file an application with the relevant Court to obtain an adoption order. The Court will hold proceedings in-camera, and dispose of your application within two months from when you filed the adoption application. The SAA will then obtain the birth certificate of the child within three working days with your name.
Step 9: The SAA which conducted the home study will prepare the post-adoption follow-up report every six months, for two years after the adoption. In case of any issues, they will provide counselling. If the problem continues, they may take back the child and declare them as legally free for adoption again for other prospective adoptive parents.
To know more, read our explainer on adoption.