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The number of Children available for adoption is less than 1/4th the demand despite the simplification in adoption process


The data available with CARA indicates that the number of children available for adoption is less than 1/4th the demand. In-country adoptions are also down 47% from 2011 to 2015-16. More female children are adopted than male and more than 70% of the adopted children are in the 0-2 age group.


 To simplify the process of adoption of orphaned children and bring in greater transparency in the process, the Government of India has issued revised guidelines for adoption of children in August 2015. While one of the stated goals for the new guidelines is to expand the adoption base, the same is yet to be realized. As of March 2016, only 1600 odd children are available for adoption while more than 7700 prospective parents have applied for adoption through Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA).

Well defined eligibility criteria for Prospective Adoptive Parents

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

adoption statistics india_age of prospective parents

  • The minimum age difference between the child and either of the prospective adoptive parents should not be less than twenty five years
  • Couples with more than four children shall not be considered for adoption

Simplified Process for Adoption

The new guidelines simplify the entire process of adoption and bring in greater transparency and clarity in the process. The following is broadly the process followed

  • Parents register online on CARINGS (Child Adoption Resource Information and Guidance System) and select the preferred Adoption Agency for HSR (Home Study Report) and State
  • Required documents have to be uploaded within 30 days of registration
  • Specialized Adoption Agency (SAA) conducts Home Study Report (HSR) of the PAPs and uploads it on CARINGS within 30 days from the date of submission of required documents on CARINGS
  • Suitability of PAPs is determined (if not found suitable, PAPs informed with reasons for rejection)
  • PAPs reserve one child, as per their preference from up to 6 children
  • PAPs visit the adoption agency within 15 days from the date of reservation and finalize
  • If the child is not finalized within stipulated time, the PAPs come down in the seniority list
  • On acceptance of the child by the PAPs, SAA completes the referral and adoption process (on CARINGS)
  • PAPs take the child in pre-adoption foster care and SAA files petition in the court and the adoption Court order is issued
  • Post-adoption follow-up report is conducted for a period of two years.

The status of the request can be tracked on the CARINGS website.  A separate process has to be followed to Inter-Country adoptions.

In country adoptions down 47% in 6 years

As per data available with CARA, the In-country adoption number has come down from 5693 in 2010 to 3011 in 2015-16. The Inter-country adoption has not changed much between 2010 and 2015-16. The worrying aspect is that the number of In-country adoptions has come down continuously.

adoption statistics india_adoption statistics india

More female children are adopted than male and maximum in the 0-2 age group

As per government data, more female children have been adopted compared to the male children in the last 3 years. While 4475 male children have been adopted between 2013-14 and 2015-16, 6448 female children have been adopted in the same period. Number of adopted children with special needs stood at 334 in 2015-16.

adoption statistics india_adoption statistics india male vs female

The age-wise adoption data is being maintained by CARA only from August 2015. Between August 2015 and March 2016, a total of 2160 children were adopted out of which 1561 were in the 0-2 age group. This is 72% of all the adopted children. 94% of the adopted children were below the age of 6 years and only 6% of the adopted children were above the age of 6 years. In all the different age groups, more female children are adopted than male children.

adoption statistics india_adoption children by age

Number of available children for adoption is less than 1/4th the demand

 As of March 2016, more than 7700 PAPs were registered with CARA. More than 2700 opted for only a girl child while more than 2800 opted only for a male child. More than 2100 opted for either a girl or a male child. However, the number of children available for adoption is only a little over 1600. Out of the 1600 children available for adoption, 770 are normal children while the rest are those with special needs. Though 1400 Children Homes (Government & NGO) and Specialized Adoption Agencies (SAAs) are functioning in the country as per government records, the number of available children is less than 1/4th the demand.

Most children are available for adoption in Maharashtra (350) followed by 132 in Telangana. More than 100 children are available for adoption in only two other states of Andhra Pradesh and Odisha. Most PAPs are registered in Maharashtra (1088) followed by 769 in West Bengal. More than 500 PAPs are registered in only three other states of Telangana, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. Whether the simplified and a transparent adoption process expands the adoption base in the coming years remains to be seen.


About Author

Rakesh has been working on issues related to Right to Information (RTI) for a decade. He is a Data/Information enthusiast & passionate about Governance/Policy issues.


  1. What is the reason for the less number of children available for adoption ? Is it becaue all orphans are not registered, which brings them under this list ? Or, truly there are less orphans in the country ?

      • This is true. I know people who have adopted directly from Hospitals/ nursing homes or parents or through some tout. But there are strong reasons. Firstly, CARA processing/ waiting time is way too long 1.5- 2 years is really long. Secondly majority PAP’s prefers neonates. Even if the adoption agency gets neonates, the process of police verification, legal proceedings, announcements in newspapers takes way too long. By the time the child is up for adoption, he/ she is more than 6 months.
        More awareness programs specially through social media will encourage prospective parents to adopt (with cases of infertility on a rise and more people willing to adopt children).

      • Go to cara website and download the pdfs under resources prerna. I mean its pretty self explanatory.

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