Adopting a Child:
The coding of the Hindu Law of Adoption was based on religious
and secular factors. It was common to adopt a male child as it was necessary
among the Hindus to provide an heir, mainly for the sake of performing religious
rites and the ceremonies for the dead parent. It was also for the continuation
of a lineage. According to the sastras, only a male could perform these rites.
It is interesting to note here that in Tamil Nadu the custom of adopting a
female child was prevalent in the Devadasi Community.
Under the present Act, any adult woman, unmarried, widowed or divorced is given the right to adopt a child. A married man cannot adopt without the consent of his wife, while a minor does not have the right to adopt. A boy or a girl who has passed the age of fifteen cannot be adopted. A boy or girl who is married cannot be adopted. There is no restriction in adoption on caste basis. There should be an age difference of twenty one years between the adopter and the adopted if they are of different sexes.'Dattahavan' which was a religious ceremony for adoption is no longer compulsory. If a person has a son of his own, he cannot adopt a boy. Similarly if a person has a daughter of his own, he cannot adopt a girl child. The same child cannot be adopted simultaneously by two or more persons.
Effect of Adoption :
1. The child is deemed to be the son or daughter of the adopted parent.
2. His relation to his biological parent is severed.
3. Any property which belongs to the adopted child, before his adoption, will continue to be his.
4. Inspite of severance of status from the family of his birth, he still cannot marry any person belonging to that family.
Prepare for the arrival of the child
Dealing with the waiting period can be a frustrating experience and one should be prepared for it:
Don't go with an agency that promises something that sounds too good to be true.
Work with professional adoption workers.
Having decided to adopt, it is not legal not or humane to give up a child in the event there is a health issue. Just as one cannot give up on a biological child, one must be prepared to commit to an adopted child. No matter what the outcome. Since these issues often surface after a while, it is too late to retrace the steps that led to adoption. Be human.
Basic requirements for adoptive parents:
Single parents must be at least 25 years old. For couples, the minimum age is 22 but no older than age 40 to be considered for a young child. Exceptions exist.
In order for a married couple to adopt a young child, their combined ages can total no more than 90 years.
Couples must be married at least two years at the time of application. A stable marriage must be evidenced.
Single women are allowed to adopt. Also, a single applicant can be no more than 40 years older than the child he or she is adopting (for example, a 47-year-old person would have to adopt a child who is at least 7 years old).
Check out laws specific to your country of residence and country of adoption. They often vary.
There is only one law pertaining to adoption in India. It is the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act (HAMA), framed in 1956. It is applicable to Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains. In the case of Muslims, Christians and other minorities, the Guardianship and Wards Act of 1890 comes into operation, which entitles them to become guardians of a child, but does not legally permit them to adopt. This act does not determine the child's legal status in matters of property and inheritance. It is also inconclusive and leaves the relationship between the child and the parents open for various legal interpretations.
HAMA too has restrictions that leave people trying to adopt, frustrated and harried and also involved in lengthy procedures.
HAMA does not allow a married Hindu woman the right to adopt, nor does it allow a Hindu couple to adopt a second child of the same sex.
Although, efforts have been made to bring some changes to the laws governing adoption, action is yet to follow.
For foreigners seeking to adopt an Indian child, the task is more laborious. They have to first obtain guardianship of the child in India and then adopt the child according to the adoption laws of the country of their origin.
There are many national and state level institutions, which assist in the adoption procedures. There are also bodies like the Indian Council for Child Welfare (ICCW) and the Indian Council for Social Welfare (ICSW) that scrutinises the various levels of the adoption procedure...
With so many agencies and protective clauses involved in the process, it can take months for an adoption application to be cleared. But most parents feel that the waiting period is worth it.