Despite medical intervention, there might be many couples who cannot get pregnant. Adoption might be a good option for them. Adoption can be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life and you can choose to do it for non-medical reasons also. Choosing to adopt a child means you are willing to make a lifelong commitment to raising a child and creating a family for that child.
Before you adopt
Ensure that both the parents are keen to adopt. The process is long and arduous and can get frustrating at times.
If all goes well, the prospective parents file a petition for adoption. Hindus adopt a child under the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act of 1956). Whereas all other religions must file a petition under the Guardians and Wards Act of 1890. If the child is above 6, the the consent of the child is also required. The adopted child cannot be more than 12 years.
Who can adopt?
Married couples can adopt. Even single people can adopt. The process and the paperwork might be different. There is some confusion about whether single males can adopt. According to CARA (Central Adoption Resource Authority), even single males can adopt and anyone disallowing single males to adopt are violating their fundamental rights. But, some agencies might not be following this.
Indians, NRIs and even non-citizens can adopt an Indian baby. Different documentation is needed for the different categories.
Both parents need to be at least 21 years of age. The combined age of the parents cannot exceed 90 and the age of either parent cannot exceed 55. In case of older and special needs children, the upper age limit can be relaxed, based on the merits of the case.
The agency will ensure that the prospective parents are financially and mentally stable.
The adoption agency matters
Make sure you you opt for a licensed adoption agency. You can visit the agencies to short list and interview the staff there. Get names of agencies from friends and the Parentree community.
Another good resource for information is CARA (Central Adoption Resources Authority)
All licensed agencies require a lot of paperwork. For example: photographs of prospective parents and their children, age proof of parents, marriage proof, residence proof (current and permanent), health certificates, blood test reports to rule out HIV and Hepatitis B, Infertility proof or reason for adopting, Income proof, property statement etc. If you are an NRI or a non-citizen then you might need different documents.
Adoption process in a nut-shell
The agency conducts interviews over multiple sessions. The interviews are held with all the family members present as well as separately with each family member. This helps the social worker to assess the family interaction.
Contrary to popular belief, the couple doesn't get to choose a child. Based on the interviews, the agency narrows down on the most suitable child for the parents.
The identity of the child's biological parents is kept confidential according to the law.
But the adoptive parents will be provided with the birth history, social background and medical profile of the child. If the parents feel that that the child is not meet their expectations, they can refuse but too many refusals can annoy an agency.
The first time the prospective parents and the child meet under the social worker's supervision. At this stage, the parents are shown the child's medical certificates. Parents can also take the child to their preferred doctor for a complete medical check-up (with the social worker's presence).
Once the parents make a final decision, they will need a lawyer to file the relevant papers in court.
Do not forget to get a copy of the birth certificate of the child.
The process can take at least 6 months to a year.
Once you adopt...
Once the child comes to the new family, there is anxiety on both sides. The child may show some nervousness and insecure behavior like excessive crying or being clingy. The kid will need extra assurance and care at this time.
The adoption agency is required to conduct follow-up sessions with the family for adoptions in India.
Time with your baby
Once you adopt, it is very important that both parents spend a lot of time bonding with the child. If you are working, take child-adoption leave once the child arrives. Central government employees get child-adoption leave for 135 days along the lines of maternity leave. Many states are in the process of passing this law for state government employees. Meanwhile, many private sector companies, especially IT companies are sensitive to the needs of their employees and are already offering this leave to them. So, do ask if your company has this leave and if not, you could try and influence them to institute this child-adoption leave.
Adoption is a complex emotional process also. Make sure you are ready to work through it. A time may come when you have to think about whether to tell the child she is adopted or not. A time may come when your child may want to seek out his biological parents to discover who they were. Preparation is the key for a successful and wonderful adoption experience.
Last updated: Aug 25, 2008 12:25 PM