Adoption in India and Role of CARA
By Shreya Verma
The law of adoption enables a childless person to make somebody else’s child as his own. It is also an effective tool to resettle orphaned and abandoned children by providing them fosterage and affection. Adoption as per Section 2(2) of the Juvenile Justice (Care & Protection) Act, 2015 means, “the process through which the adopted child is permanently separated from his biological parents and becomes the lawful child of the adoptive parents with all the rights, privileges and responsibilities that are attached to a biological child”. The process for adopting a child is a long one. It can take approximately six to seven months, sometimes, even years for a couple to adopt a child. As of June 2021, during the Covid-19 pandemic, more than 1,700 children had lost both their parents, which further made a need to accelerate the procedure of adoption under CARA. In India a child can be placed with a family under the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act 1956, Guardians and Wards Act, 1890 and Juvenile Justice Act, 2000. A Hindu, under Hindu Personal Law includes anyone who is Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist or Jain. With respect to Muslim Personal Law, adoption is prohibited in Islam. However, Supreme Court in, Shabnam Hashmi vs. Union of India 2014 held that Juvenile Justice Act, 2000 is a secular law and it applies to all irrespective of any religion. Does a Muslim percent is also allowed to adopt under the provisions of Juvenile justice act even if is governed by Muslim personal law. Any adoption by a Hindu is covered under Hindu adoption and maintenance Act, 1956. However, when a child is abandoned, orphaned for whose parentage is not known then the adoption is done through Central Adoption Resource Agency that is CARA.
Central Adoption Resource Agency (CARA): In June 1990, the Central Government’s Ministry of Welfare established Central Adoption Resource Agency (CARA), with a primary aim to regulate, monitor and promote adoption of orphaned, abandoned or surrendered children, so as to find them loving families. Adoption in India is a lengthy process. CARA attained the status of a Statutory Body through Section 68 of the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015, with the mandate to regulate Inter Country Adoptions and the nodal body to implement the adoption programme in the country. Now, CARA regulates and monitor all In-country and Intercountry adoptions through Child Adoption Resource Information & Guidance System (CARINGS). CARA is responsible for overseeing adoptions across the country.
Functions of CARA: Central Adoption Resource Authority under this Act to perform the following functions, namely: -
(a) To promote In-country adoptions and to facilitate Inter-state adoptions in co-ordination with State Agency;
(b) To regulate Inter-country adoptions;
(c) To frame regulations on adoption and related matters from time to time as may be necessary;
(d) To carry out the functions of the Central Authority under the Hague Convention on protection of Children and Cooperation in respect of Inter-country Adoption;
(e) Any other function as may be prescribed.
Provisions for adoption: The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act 2015 read with Adoption Regulation,2017 has recognized five kinds of adoption namely:
(1) an abandoned, surrendered, destitute child/ren adopted by unrelated person/s living within the country;
(2) an abandoned, surrendered, destitute child/ren adopted by unrelated person/s living outside the country;
(3) a related child by relatives living within the country;
(4) a related child by relatives living outside the country; and
(5) adoption of a child by step parents within the country.
Person capable of adopting : Prospective adoptive parents (PAP):-
who are physically, mentally and emotionally stable, financially capable and who do not have any life threatening medical conditions are eligible to adopt.
The minimum age difference between the child and PAP/s shall not be less than twenty-five years
Adoption by Married couples:
A couple with stable marriage of 2 years.
A child can be adopted with consent of both.
The composite age of the married couple does not exceed 110 years.
Adoption by single parent:
(i) Single persons with or without biological or adoptive children can adopt provided they satisfy the following:
(ii) A single female can adopt a child of any gender
(iii) A single male is not eligible to adopt a girl child
(iv) Age of a single parent does not exceed 55 years.
(v) Must have less than four children unless they are adopting a child with special needs, a hard-
to-place child, a relative’s child or a step-child.
Who can be adopted:
A child can be adopted if s/he is:
(i) An orphan, abandoned or surrendered (OAS) child who has been declared legally free for adoption by the Child Welfare Committee (CWC)
(ii) A child of a relative (a relative means the child's paternal uncle or aunt, a maternal uncle or aunt or paternal and maternal grandparents)
(iii) A child or children of spouse from earlier marriage surrendered by the biological parent(s) for adoption by the step-parent.
The main function of CARA is to find a loving and caring family for children without parental care, also those who are orphaned, abandoned and surrendered. Any child adoption without following process established under CARA is illegal. Even if the child is handed over by the police. Guidelines established by the Authority ensures ensure rights of adopted child and his rights to property.