Children, Government of India, India, Stories

Data: 60% of the Adopted Children are Female, 80% in the 0-2 Age Group


Data from the Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) indicates that in the last 10 years, female children accounted for 60% of those adopted. Further, 80% of all the children adopted were in the 0-2 age group. Recently, the parliamentary standing committee highlighted the need to harmonize various laws and create a uniform adoption legislation that is transparent, accountable, and applicable to all, regardless of religion, to simplify adoptions.

The emotional dilemma of the “unwanted child” stands as one of society’s most disheartening challenges. Adoption plays a crucial role in addressing this issue by expanding the definition of what it means to be a parent. It creates an opportunity for children who cannot return to their biological parents to have a stable family life, thus redefining the notion of family to include relationships not bound by blood. The following quote sums up the noble intention behind adoptions: ‘adopting a child might not change the world, but for that child, the world will change’

Demand for adoption has increased in recent years. While some of the common causes attributed to adoption are delayed marriages, postponement of childbearing, and infertility, a substantial proportion of adoptive parents are motivated by a sense of altruism, rather than issues related to their own ability to conceive.

In today’s story, we look at trends and issues in adoption in India. Factly’s previous stories on adoptions can be read here , here, and here.

Dip in adoptions: Second lowest figures in a decade for 2022-23.

The Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) plays a pivotal role in fostering domestic adoptions, streamlining inter-state adoptions, formulating regulations concerning adoption, and overseeing inter-country adoption as the designated Central Authority under the Hague Convention.

The data on adoptions from CARA show that, with a total of 3441 adoptions, 2022-23 stands as the year with the second lowest number of adoptions after 2021-22. The total adoptions rose from 3677 during 2015-16 to 4027 in 2018-19, after which there was a decline in the adoptions till 2020-21. The year 2022-23 recorded a marginal increase compared to the previous year.

Out of the total adoptions, in-country adoptions account for more than 85%, while inter-country adoptions account for the rest. This is partly owing to the difference in the procedures relating to adoption, with inter-country adoptions requiring additional scrutiny and enhanced safeguard measures.

3 out of every 5 children adopted are female.

The gender-wise details on adoption show that there is a gender preference in adoption. In India, in the past 9 years from 2013-14 (except 2017-18), around 13,962 male children were adopted. In contrast, 20,396 female children were adopted during the same period. On average, 3 out of every 5 children adopted tends to be female.

This trend is surprising, considering India is a country where preference for a son is ingrained in societal norms. The notion of daughters being sought after for adoption is surprising. The exact cause behind such preference is unknown.

Lesser the age, greater the preference for adoption

The data on the age-group-wise adoptions show the inherent preference for adopting children of lower ages. From 2015-16 till 2021-22 (up to 31 January 2022), out of the total 19,737 children adopted, a staggering 15,865 children, accounting for 80% of the total, belonged to 0-2 years. This is followed by 2-4 years at 8%, 4-6 years at 5%, 6-8 years and 8-10 years at 2%, and the rest at 1% and below. Even among the 0-2 years, almost 85% of those are infants, i.e. belonging to age 0-1 years.

The underlying factors behind such preferences could possibly be due to the notion that childhood interventions are better early than late. Additionally, the earlier the adoption, the higher potential to reap substantial psychological and physical advantages for adopted children. 

Only 9 legally free children available for every 100 prospective adoptive parents

Adoption in India is a tedious process. It takes an average of 2 years for Prospective adoptive parents to get a referral for children in the age group of 0-4 years, as per the Ministry of Women and Child Development. This could be due to multiple factors: availability of children who are legally free for adoption, choice of the Prospective Adoptive Parents (PAPs) to adopt from a particular State, and also the age group.

Further, as per the Standing Committee report on guardianship and adoption laws, as of 16 December 2021, a total of 26,734 PAPs have registered with CARA and are waiting for a referral for In-country adoption and 1205 PAPs are awaiting Inter-Country adoption. However, a total of 6996 Orphaned/Abandoned/Surrendered children are residing in Childcare Institutions linked with State Adoption Agencies, out of which 2430 are declared legally free for adoption and 4566 children are in process at different levels before being declared legally free for adoption by Child Welfare Committee. 

That is, only 9 children are legally free for adoption for every 100 PAPs. This is a highly paradoxical situation; given the high willingness of people to adopt than the number of children available. Hence, the Committee stressed the need for timely surveys to get a true picture of the children abandoned/orphaned and also prevent illegal and informal adoptions. Further, the ministry also should act on the adoption rackets and commercialization of adoption.

Need a uniform and transparent law on adoption.

Considering the necessity for more child-friendly, welfare-oriented laws regarding adoption and guardianship in India, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice explored the subject ‘Review of Guardianship and Adoption Laws’ in 2022. In India, the laws that govern adoption and guardianship are:

While each law had its shortcomings, the committee found the existing anomalies and inconsistencies between the laws.

Some of the anomalies highlighted by the committee are.

The Committee believes that both the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act (HAMA) and the Juvenile Justice Act (JJ Act) have their strengths and weaknesses. While HAMA offers a simpler and quicker adoption process compared to the JJ Act, adoptions under the JJ Act are more transparent and accountable. However, the Committee observes that the adoption regulations under the JJ Act are complex and prone to delays. Consequently, there’s a need to harmonize these laws and create a uniform adoption legislation that is transparent, accountable, and applicable to all, regardless of religion, to simplify adoptions. Currently, the lack of mechanisms for adoption through recognized agencies and compulsory registration of adoptions leads to unregulated private adoptions under HAMA. These adoptions are not in line with international conventions like the Hague Convention on Inter-Country Adoption, to which India is a signatory. The absence of data on HAMA adoptions also poses challenges for monitoring and preventing trafficking. Therefore, the Committee recommends mandatory registration of adoption deeds with the Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) to facilitate monitoring and regulation of all adoptions.


Comments are closed.