Is India’s Adoption Policy Leaving Children Homeless?

India's adoption policy rules out cohabitating couples as eligible adoptive parents.

Meghan Rivard June 23, 2018
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Adoption is not without compromise or change; a change in the paperwork; a change in the timeline, unknown information about a child, or other unknowns about the visit to a foreign country. It may also involve government entities changing requirements without any previous notice or reasoning. That is what recently happened in India’s adoption policy.

India’s Adoption Policy

In reviewing prospective adoptive parent’s cases, CARA, the Central Adoption Resource Authority in India, decided and ruled that anyone participating in cohabitation without marriage is not eligible for adoption. They stated, “cohabitation without marriage is not considered a stable family in India.”

In India‘s adoption policy, a single woman is eligible to adopt either gender child, male or female, while a single man is solely eligible to adopt a boy. Couples who are married must both give their consent and be married for over two years prior to adopting. The minimum age for a prospective adoptive parent is 25 years of age or 30 years of age for a single woman. Families with up to three children can adopt from India, and if more children are in the home, they are eligible for older children with special needs. The adoption process usually takes 18-24 months and families typically travel and are in India for two weeks.

What makes a cohabitation not stable? The United States Supreme Court recognizes live-in relationships: they believe that people have a right to live together and not pursue marriage while maintaining a stable home.

It seems unfair to judge someone’s family orientation on one fact and not look at every aspect when making an educated decision. The question often asked was about whether or not a live-in relationship after an adoption affects the stability of a home in the eyes of CARA. A representative from CARA stated that they can only view a person’s or family’s suitability to adopt at the couple’s current situation and cannot predict the future.

Adoption is not for the faint of heart. It takes a strong person. Is India enforcing guidelines that protect the children or are their laws requiring more children to live without adoptive parents? Let’s put our judgments in favor of the children and not those of the adults.


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Meghan Rivard

Meghan is an adoptive mother and a big advocate of adoption and foster care. She resides in Indiana with her husband, their one-year-old daughter who is the center of their lives, and their dog Max. She has a Bachelor's and Master’s Degree in Social Work. Meghan stays at home with her daughter but is so happy she found this outlet to share her personal adoption story and educate about adoption!

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