Child Adoption in India

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: September 13th, 2023

Adoption is the process through which a child becomes the lawful child of his prospective adoptive parents with all the accompanying rights and responsibilities that are attached to a biological child.

Child adoption is increasing in India and throughout the world. The cause of most adoptions is either because the parents are unable to have kids or because they want to give a new lease of life and support to a child who has been abandoned or left alone in the world. Earlier considered a taboo in Indian society, adoption is now considered freely in the Indian society.


Recently, the Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA), which is a statutory body of the Ministry of Women and Child Development, has invited suggestions for the simplification of the adoption process from all stakeholders.

Child Adoption in India: About; Agencies Involved; Eligibility to Adopt a Child; Procedure; Concerns


  1. Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) – CARA issues guidelines to lay down the procedures, processes and formalities to be followed by agencies and people in the adoption process.
  2. State Adoption Resource Agency (SARA) – SARA is the nodal body in the State promoting and monitoring the adoption process in the state and non-institutional care of children in coordination with CARA.
  3. Specialised Adoption Agency (SAA) – SAA is recognized by the State Government for the placement of orphaned, abandoned or surrendered children for adoption.
  4. Authorised Foreign Adoption Agency (AFAA)-AFAA is a foreign social or child welfare agency authorised by CARA for the purpose of coordinating on matters relating to the adoption of any Indian child by that particular country’s citizen.
  5. District Child Protection Unit (DCPU) – DCPU is a unit set up by the State Government. It is set up at the district level to identify orphan, abandoned and surrendered children in that particular district. It also endeavours to get them declared as legally free for the purpose of adoption.
  6. Child Welfare Committee (CWC) – The State Government constitutes for every district, one or more than one CWC for exercising such powers and to discharge such duties conferred on them in relation to child in need of care, protection under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015.


  • The prospective adoptive parents (PAP) should be stable from a physical, mental and emotional standpoint.
  • They should be motivated to adopt a child and should not have any life-threatening medical condition.
  • Any PAP, irrespective of marital status or the fact that he or she has a biological child can adopt.
  • A single female is eligible to adopt a child of any gender, however, a single male person is not eligible to adopt a girl child.
  • In case a couple wants to adopt a child, the consent of both the spouses is mandatory. A couple which is PAP must have had at least 2 years of stable marriage.
  • The age of PAP will also be taken into cognizance for the purpose of deciding the PAP’s eligibility for adoption.
  • Couples who have more than four children will not be considered for adoption.


The adoption procedure involves the following 9 steps-

  1. Registration on CARA.
  2. Selection of specialised adoption agency (SAA) for home study and counselling regarding the entire process and preparedness of PAPs for adoption. The SAA then presents its report to suitable judicial authority.
  3. Referral- SAA informs the PAPs whenever a child is ready for adoption. They share details required by the PAp. They also arrange for meetups of the PAPs with the child  if PAPs are interested in moving further.
  4. Acceptance- If convinced about the child, the PAPs accept the child and sign documents confirming the same.
  5. Filing of petition- a lawyer prepares a petition to legalise and formalise the adoption.
  6. Pre-adoption foster care- to understand the needs, habits and extant behaviour of the child to ease the adjustment.
  7. A court hearing to make a decision on the petition for adoption of the child.
  8. Court orders.
  9. Post-adoption, the SAA may be asked to submit reports on the child’s well-being to the court from time to time.


  • Financial- The PAP must have sufficient finances to complete the formalities regarding adoption such as lawyer’s fees, etc, and to ensure the well being of the child. The same is required to be ensured by the authorities before adoption. So adoption is difficult for financially less well off people in India.
  • Ethical – Issues such as information asymmetry, lack of informed consent, trafficking concerns, etc present severe ethical challenges. Social stigma regarding adoption is also a problem in the Indian context.
  • Legal – The procedure is too legalistic giving rise to the possibility of lengthy litigation regarding the legality of the adoption process. This can affect the well being of the child as well as that of PAPs.
  • Health Constraints– Lack of medical history is a common occurrence in adoption cases, particularly for abandoned children. In such cases, the health problems of the child may cause substantial financial and mental distress.
  • Emotional and Cultural Issues – Adoption requires great mental strength on the part of the parents as adjustment of the child can be emotionally turbulent, particularly in case of children of higher age. Further, issues of cultural adjustment, particularly in inter-religious adoption and cross-cultural adoption can create challenges in smooth adoption.

Kofi Annan once said-

“There is no trust more sacred than the one the world holds with children. There is no duty more important than ensuring that their rights are respected, that their welfare is protected, that their lives are free from fear and want and that they can grow up in peace.

As such, ensuring that the welfare of every child is taken care off, by making the adoption process smoother and tackling concerns regarding the extant adoption process is the need of the hour in India.

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