While the adoption rules in India have been simplified over the years, the In-Country adoption numbers have declined substantially in the country in the last 7 years. Maharashtra leads in In-Country adoptions and USA leads in Inter-Country adoptions.
To simplify the process of adoption of orphaned or abandoned children and bring in greater transparency in the process, the Government of India has issued the ‘Adoption Regulations 2017’, improving on the 2015 guidelines. These new regulations came into force from 16th January 2017. While one of the stated goals for the new guidelines is to expand the adoption base and streamline the adoption process, the same is yet to be realized. The number of ‘In Country’ adoptions have gone down by over 50% in the last 7 years as per government data.
Among other things, the new regulations include
- Procedures related to adoption by relatives both within the country and abroad
- The time period available to the domestic prospective adoptive parents for matching and acceptance, after reserving the child, has been increased to twenty days from the existing fifteen days.
- 32 Schedules are annexed to the Regulations including model adoption applications to be filed in the Court etc. This is expected to address delays prevalent in obtaining the Court order.
Well defined eligibility criteria for Prospective Adoptive Parents
Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) is the designated nodal agency to co-ordinate the entire adoption process. CARA is also the designated Central Authority to deal with inter-country adoptions in accordance with the provisions of the Hague Convention on Inter-country Adoption, 1993, ratified by Government of India in 2003.
The new guidelines lay down the clear eligibility criteria for Prospective Adoptive Parents (PAP). The eligibility criteria include
- They should be physically, mentally and emotionally stable; financially capable; motivated to adopt a child; and should not have any life threatening medical condition
- Any prospective adoptive parent, irrespective of his marital status and whether or not he has his own biological son or daughter, can adopt a child
- Single female is eligible to adopt a child of any gender
- Single male person shall not be eligible to adopt a girl child
- In case of a couple, the consent of both spouses shall be required
- No child shall be given in adoption to a couple unless they have at least two years of stable marital relationship
- The age of prospective adoptive parents as on the date of registration shall be counted for deciding the eligibility and the eligibility of prospective adoptive parents to apply for children of different age groups
- The minimum age difference between the child and either of the prospective adoptive parents should not be less than twenty-five years
- Couples with three or more children shall not be considered for adoption
In country adoptions down by more than 50% in 7 years
As per data shared by the government in the Lok Sabha, the In-country adoption number has come down from 5693 in 2010 to 2717 in 2016-17 (up to March 15th). The Inter-country adoption number has been going up and down in these 7 years. The worrying aspect is that the number of In-country adoptions has come down continuously and decreased by more than 50% in these 7 years.
More female children are adopted than male
As per government data, more female children are being adopted compared to the male children in each of the last 4 years (In Country adoption). While 5601 male children were adopted between 2013-14 and 2016-17, 8039 female children were adopted during the same period.
The trend is more or less similar even in inter-country adoption. While 596 male children were adopted between 2013-14 and 2016-17, 1402 female children were adopted during the same period.
Maharashtra leads in In-Country adoptions
Among the various states, Maharashtra leads with more than 20% of the total adoptions in the country in each of the last 4 years. Eleven (11) different states have seen more than 100 adoptions in 2016-17. Almost all the southern states are in the top 10 in terms of adoption numbers.
USA, Italy & Spain account for 70% of all the Inter-Country adoptions
Individuals from the 3 countries of USA, Italy & Spain have accounted for 70% or more Inter-Country adoptions in each of the last 4 years. In fact, most of the countries in the top-half in the list of Inter-Country adoptions are European. Canada & USA are from the Americas and only UAE is from the Middle East. USA has consistently accounted for more than 1/3rd of all the Inter-Country adoptions. In the last 4 years, individuals from 35 different countries have adopted children from India.