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Changing Dimension of Adoption in Indian Society: Future Perspective

"We do not need to know the beginning of a child's story to change the ending" -- Fi Newood

Adoption as defined by the Child Welfare Information Gateway is "the social, emotional, and legal process in which children who will not be raised by their birth parents become full and permanent legal members of another family while maintaining genetic and psychological connections to their birth family." Depending on their position and viewpoint, various people are affected by adoption in different ways.

The idea of adoption has undergone a significant transformation during the transition from the prehistoric to the contemporary era. Similar to other social institutions, adoption is mostly a result of historical and evolutionary processes. Both childless couples and orphans, homeless children, and young people in need, gain from adoption. Adoption gives lone, single adults a parent-child relationship, which enriches their lives. Despite the fact that they are not blood relatives, adoption fosters a strong bond between the child and their adoptive parents.

The idea of adoption was introduced in order to grant orphan, abandoned, and relinquished children the right to have a family. The purpose of introducing this idea was to ensure that one's funeral rights would be carried out and to protect one's lineage. The idea of adoption was thought to be the most effective way to give a child who had lost his or her biological family a family again.

Section 2 (2) of the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015, states that "adoption is the process through which the adopted child is permanently separated from his/her adoptive parents with all the rights, privileges and responsibilities that are attached to a biological child."

Laws Regulating Adoption In India:

In India, a parent can adopt a child regardless of whether they are married or single, NRIs, or foreigners of any nationality. The rules and the documentation procedure, however, may vary depending on the adoptive parents' group.

In India, the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, 1956 (particularly for Hindus) provides categories of people who can adopt:

According to Section-7 of the Act, any male Hindu who is of sound mind, not a minor, and qualifies to adopt a son or a daughter is included. However, if such a man is still married at the time of the adoption, he can only do so with his wife's consent (unless the court has pronounced her incapable of giving consent).

Similarly, as per Section-8 of the Act, any female Hindu has the right to adopt a son or a daughter, provided that, she is not married, or if she is married, her husband is deceased, or their marriage has been dissolved, or her husband has been found to be illegally incompetent by a court."

Conditions For Adoption:

Section-11 of the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, 1956 provides certain conditions for a valid adoption:
  1. If a son is being adopted, the adoptive parent who is making the adoption must not already be the parent of a Hindu son, son's son, or son's son's son (whether by biological descent from a parent or through adoption) who is alive at the time of the adoption.
  2. If a daughter is being adopted, neither the adoptive mother nor father may, at the time of the adoption, be the biological parents of a Hindu daughter or son, whether by blood or by adoption.
  3. The adoptive father must be at least twenty-one years older than the adoptee, if the adoptive parent is male and the adoptee is a female.
  4. If a female is the adoptive parent and the adoptee is a boy, the adoptive mother must be at least twenty-one years older than the adoptee.
  5. Not more than two people may adopt the same child at the same time.
  6. The intended transfer of the child from the family of its birth (or, in the case of an abandoned child or child whose parentage is unknown, from the place or family where it has been raised) to the family of its adoption requires that the child be actually given and taken in adoption by the concerned parents or guardians or under their authority.

Personal Laws On The Matter Of Adoption:

Personal Laws of Muslim, Christian, Parsi, and Jewish do not acknowledge full adoption; therefore, if a member of one of these religions wishes to adopt a child, they may apply for guardianship of the child under Section-8 of the Guardians and Wards Act, 1890.

This law only designates a child as a ward, not as an adopted child. When a movement child reaches the age of 21, he is no longer regarded as a ward and is treated as an adult, in accordance with this statute.

However, under the Guardians and Wards Act, an adoption from an orphanage is permitted with the court's approval. The Act permits Christians to adopt children who are in foster care. When a foster child reaches adulthood, he has the freedom to sever all ties from his adoptive parents.

Capacity To Adopt Under The Juvenile Justice (Care And Protection Of Children) Act, 2015:

An orphan, abandoned child, or one who has been turned in can be adopted by a couple or a single parent. Adoptions made pursuant to the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act are not covered by this law. Section 37 of the JJ Act, 2015 and Regulations 6 and 7 of the AR of 2017 grant the authority to the Child Welfare Committee to declare an orphan, an abandoned child, or a child who has been turned in as unfit for adoption, as well as to permit adoption of children up to the age of 18.

Specific provisions related to adoption under the Act are as follow:

  • Eligibility Criteria for Adoptive Parents: The Act specifies the requirements for people or couples who want to adopt a child. Age, marital status, financial security, and the capacity to give the child a safe and caring environment are frequently included in these criteria.
  • Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA): The Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA), which acts as the primary organization for regulating and overseeing adoption procedures in India, is established by the Act. A national database of adoptable children and potential adopting parents is kept up to date by CARA.
  • Preference for Adoption within India: The Act gives preference to domestic adoption over international adoption, which means that Indian people are given preference when it comes to adopting Indian Children. When suitable Indian adoptive parents cannot be found, only then international adoption is considered.
  • Procedure for Adoption: The Act outlines the adoption process, including the function of adoption agencies and the related legal steps. It highlights how crucial it is to guarantee that the child's best interests are upheld throughout the adoption procedure.
  • Adoption Guidelines and Regulations: The Act gives the government the authority to create policies and rules pertaining to adoption. The documentation requirements, the home study process, and other adoption-related procedures may be outlined in these recommendations.

Societal Changes In Adoption In India

The government had a motive to inquire about the welfare of children who became orphans as a result of abandonment, poverty, and conflict. Initially, the next relatives on either side of the family would automatically adopt such children into their homes. It was observed that adopting these kids were the greatest alternative when there were no family members available to take care of them.

In this context, conventional adoption- which arose as a matter of personal and familial interest- moved in the direction of reforming child welfare. This improvement in children's welfare paved the opportunity for Indians to adopt children who were not related in the 1920s. The number of unrelated children adopted during this time is unknown because documentation was not widely known.

Current Changes In The Pattern Of Adoption

In the past few decades, India's perception of adoption has seen a considerable change. Prospective adoptive parents are starting to comprehend the social and legal aspects of adoption, as well as the necessity of working with formal child welfare organizations. It's noteworthy to consider that the number of kids entering Institutions either through surrender or abandonment has significantly decreased over the past few years. Family planning and legally ending pregnancies are the causes of this. A wider view of attitudes has changed as a result of education, globalisation, and contemporary ideas.

In Bihar, for instance, as per the reports of CARA, In-country adoption for the year 2016-2017 has been reported up to 134, whereas, Inter-country adoption was 26. Similarly, the highest was recorded in Maharashtra where In-country adoption was 711 whereas Inter-country adoption was about 142. The lowest was recorded in Jammu & Kashmir where the In-country adoption was 0 whereas the Inter-country adoption was sucked at 0.

In rural areas of Tamil Nadu, girl children continue to be victims. Surprisingly, according to ICCW figures, 78% of all domestically adopted children between 2001 and 2009 were girl, while 22% were male. This demonstrates unequivocally that girls continue to be abandoned or turned over more frequently than boys.

A girl child is not seen as an economic burden by prospective parents who have greater levels of income. They are confident in their ability to parent girl children.

Futuristic Approach Towards Adoption

To finish the adoption process and avoid time running out, Family Courts will need to adopt more "child friendly" policies. The District Court Judges will require ongoing instruction form the Judicial Academy on how to handle adoption cases delicately.

The required advice for raising children with special needs must be provided by NGOs and child welfare organizations. Policies must be established very soon since same-sex couple adoption is gaining popularity. Currently, some states in India are able to legalize same sex-marriage.

We may predict that training and education for adoption counselling competency will be an area that receives significantly more attention in the coming ten years due to growing awareness of the psychological implications of the adoption process.

The Supreme Court of India recently decided to hear a case requesting that the legal procedure for child adoption in India be streamlined.

Way Ahead
Adoption Is a personal decision, and adopting parents may have concerns about parenting, relatives, interacting with the community, or attending school. Currently, post-adoption counselling is provided in the form of aftercare, but is only made available to the parents upon request. To help and direct parents with the shift in their roles and adjusting to parenthood, it is advised that post adoption counselling be made mandatory.

The need to educate the mental health community on the adoption process and the psychological effects of childless couples who adopt is another crucial element. It may be inferred from the current pattern that adoption therapy training will someday be required.

Written By: Aditi Ambastha, 5th Year, B.A.LL.B. - Noida International University

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