December 17, 2020
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Do you know what the law says about adoption? Well, let’s start with the ancient law of adoption, known as the Hindu law, which by the way, was the only law in India that allowed the adoption of orphaned children. Under this law, the adopted child had rights equivalent to that of a natural-born. This was because according to the ancient religious customs a son is spiritual and material welfare to a family. But this letter of the law was a bit complicated and held barriers based on gender and caste in society. Today we have a more re-defined law and order for the process of adoption. Let’s take a look at it.
Prepping for child’s arrival
Adopting a child is similar to the birth of a child in your family. After all the paperwork and court proceedings that you have gone through, you begin to prepare your home and finances for the upbringing of a child. There are adoption counsellors who can guide you best with these preparations. They will provide you with a list of do’s and don’ts that will help you get in order.
While the waiting process is never-ending, there are some fun things that you and your partner can get done to cool your nervous system. Explore child care measures from books and other parents with babies. You can also choose baby names and talk to other adoptive parents for more in-hand experiences. You can even try reaching out to them on our community platform.
Prep the baby room and shop for baby clothes and products. While you make these changes in your life, don’t forget to spend quality time with yourself and your partner. Track your thoughts and support each other during these times. It will help build a closer relationship as the baby arrives home.
Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956:
Today’s modern society called for a lot of changes from the ancient Hindu Law. The Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956 allows a person to adopt a child irrespective of their gender or marital status. But the court holds limitations for a male parent to adopt a girl child. While there are a few extra regulations, the law also allows adoption not only for Indians, but also NRIs and foreign citizens.
The evolution and progress of our institutions and society, today, the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956 (also called as HAMA) has broken down a lot of barriers otherwise enforced by the old Hindu law. Section 7 and 8 under the HAMA rule defines the eligibility criteria for both genders to adopt a child.
Process of adoption under HAMA
The applicant should register with the Child Welfare Agency through an Adoption Coordinating Agency (ACA). These sources are found in each state capital. They can also go through agencies that are certified by the Central Adoption Resource Agency (CARA). There will be a set of interviews and processes that look into the intention and motivation of the parents behind the adoption.
Once they are shortlisted, a court hearing takes place regarding the adoption. Once the court issues the decree, the adoption is finalized.
Juvenile Justice Act, 2015
This legal letter allows a couple or a single parent to adopt a child, an orphan, abandoned or surrendered child. However, this law is very different with respect to the HAMA law. The Juvenile Justice Act, 2015 is very secular in nature, i.e. it is not specific to the Hindu community. The Child Welfare Committee can legally allow a child up to the age of 18 to be adopted by a parent.
Since the law is not very gender-specific, the eligibility of the parent or parents is common to both male and female. According to this law, parents or individuals should be mentally fit and financially stable. They have to be motivated to adopt and provide everything for his/her upbringing. For couples, the consent of both the parents is mandatory and should also hold two years of stable marriage relationship. However, this law also does not allow a single man to adopt a girl child.
The age of prospective parents is taken into consideration when they adopt a child of a particular age. The minimum age difference between the two should not be less than 25 years. Also, the law holds a barrier for couples who have three children. Under these circumstances, only the adoption of children with special needs is taken into consideration.
Process of Adoption under Juvenile Justice Act, 2015
The parent(s) should register with the Adoption Coordinating Agency or with the State Adoption Cell. Following this process, a Home Study report is prepared by a social worker who will come interview you, your family members and other financial orders of business. This process also includes a rigorous counselling session that prepares you to be a supportive parent to your adopted child.
Once your Home Study report is accepted the agency connects you with children who are admitted to be legally adopted. If the child is above the age of 6, then a written and verbal consent will be obtained. After the successful matching, a petition is filed in court to obtain the necessary orders.
Over the years, there have been many attempts that have been made to bring about a change in these two laws in the system. The attempts hope to bring about uniformity between these two letters of the law. The process of adoption is a ray of hope to people and children everywhere. Legal formalities are just a part of the system to ensure security for the child and the parents.