India is making progressive strides in smashing stereotypes about motherhood in an effort to encourage more adoptions. While being over 40 years old and single in India has, in the past, been a black mark on the road to motherhood, it will now get women to the front of the adoption line.

The CSR Journal reported that financially stable women over 40 in India will now be given preference in adoption thanks to the Ministry of Women and Child Development. This move by the ministry cuts waiting time for single women to just six months after applying to adopt, rather than one year.

Dr. Mala Sharma of India spoke with The Times of India (TOI) about her struggle to adopt a child as a single woman over 40. Sharma explained, “Each time, they kept asking the same questions and delayed the process. Once I took my parents and brother with me to show that I do have a family and can take care of a child. But then they pointed out that my parents were old and needed care as well. I was asked how much property I owned, if I planned to get married….Basically, they discourage you if you are single. Or, they try to give you children with health problems that couples don’t want.”

The publication also noted that Surrogacy Regulation Bill 2016 is in the midst of a review for passage. If passed, this would make commercial surrogacy illegal for single men and woman. With this, adoption would become their only option to become a parent alone.

As reported by TOI, research from the Central Adoption Research Agency noted that the number of adoptions in India had decreased from 4,694 adoptions in 2012-2013 to 3,210 in 2016-2017. The hope is that softening the restrictions on adoption for single women will increase these numbers dramatically. The Ministry of Women and Child Development sees this as one step forward in ensuring single women are given an equal chance at adoption and that children are given a better chance to find a forever home.