Child Adoption in India: Process and Laws

The act of child adoption has always been revered. Legal adoption, according to Merriam-Webster, means "to take (a child of other parents) voluntarily as one's own kid, especially in line with formal legal procedures. "Adoption may be permitted or prohibited. Adoption is a legal partnership between the party willing to adopt and the kid being adopted, according to Indian law.

When it comes to "personal law," Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, and Sikhs are able to adopt children legally on the basis of their respective faiths. Hindus, Christians, and Parsis must file a petition to the court for a lawful adoption under the Guardians and Wards Act of 1890 because these groups do not have their own specific adoption laws in India.

What Is the Meaning of Adoption

The legal procedure of adoption transfers a child's rights and obligations from the child's biological parents to the child's adoptive parents. The welfare of the child is the only goal of adoption. It is very crucial to take into account all the aspects prior to adoption that could have an impact on the child since once the adoption is finalized, a new bond is created between the adoptive parents and the adopted child. Once the adoption process is over, the kid's biological parents lose all rights to the child. Continue reading to learn more about the adoption procedure.

Adoption in India

In India, adoption has been a tradition and habit since ancient times. Although the purpose for which the act is carried out has changed, the adoption act itself has not. Adoption was primarily seen as a sacramental act. Whether adoption has a secular reason that predominates or a religious motive that predominates has caused intense debate among the judges as well as the writer.

Many adoption-related laws existed under the previous Hindu law, which could only be justified on the grounds that adoption was a sacramental act. The Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act of 1956 has rendered adoption a secular institution by firmly separating it from all of its religious and sacramental features in the presence of submission. All adoptions made after 1956 are legal and lawful, but they must also meet the requirements of the statute to be valid.

Adoption is also prohibited by Jewish, Christian, Parsi, and Muslim personal laws in India. Perhaps they frequently choose to have a child placed under guardianship under the Guardianship and Wards Act of 1890. Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, and Buddhists who reside in India are qualified to legally adopt a child. The Hindu Code Bills included the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act of 1956, which was passed in India. It led to the introduction of a few reforms that loosened the adoption institution.

Who can Adopt

In India, a Hindu male must be of sound mind and should be able to provide a proper life (financially) for an adopted son or daughter. Furthermore, if he still has a living wife, the adoption should only go forward with her approval, unless the wife has publicly and totally abandoned the world, has renounced Hinduism, or has been found to be mentally incompetent by the appropriate court.

In India, a Hindu woman must be of sound mind, a major, and capable of providing a suitable life (financially) for an adopted son or daughter. Being unmarried is another crucial need for a Hindu woman to adopt (not married). If she is married, either her marriage has ended, the spouse is deceased, she has entirely and publicly renounced the world and abandoned Hinduism, or she has been found to be mentally incompetent by the appropriate court.

The important point is that if a Hindu woman in a regular marriage wants to adopt a child, the adoption formalities must be carried out with her consent.

If Someone Already have a Child, may he/she Adopt Another One

Absolutely, adoptive parents may decide to adopt a child even if they already have one of their own. According to the HAMA Act, these parents are only permitted to adopt children who are the opposite gender from their own; therefore, if they already have a boy, they can only adopt a girl, and the reverse is also true. On the other hand, there are no comparable provisions for adoption under the GWA or the Justice Juvenile Act. Also, if the adoptive child is old enough to express their opinions, their viewpoints will be taken into account.

Adoption Criteria

  • No surviving son (whether by actual blood relationship or adoption) shall be in the three generations after the adoptive Hindu man or woman at the time of the adoption. There must not be any active students.

  • When a Hindu man or woman adopts a daughter, they should not already be the parents of another daughter.

  • If a man adopts a girl, the adoptive father must be at least 21 years older than the child.

  • The adoptive mother should be at least 21 years older than the child in cases where a female adopts a son.

  • While complete adoption is not permitted under Jewish, Christian, Parsi, or Muslim personal laws, a member of one of these religions may adopt a child in line with Section 8 of the Act.

  • This law only designates a child as a ward; it does not designate them as an adopted child. According to this rule, when a movement kid reaches the age of 21, he is no longer classified as a ward and is instead treated as an individual identity.

  • Nonetheless, a court order is required in order to adopt a child from an orphanage in accordance with the Guardians and Wards Act. According to the Act, Christians are only permitted to adopt children who are in foster care. Once a youngster has spent a significant amount of time in foster care, he is free to sever all ties to his adoptive parents.

Adoption Under Muslim Law

There is no such thing as adoption in Islam, and Muslim law does not acknowledge it. It was mentioned in the famous case Mohammed Allahabad Khan v. Mohammad Ismail that there is no such thing as adoption or anything like it in Muslim law as it is understood by the Hindu system. "Acknowledgement of Paternity" is the Muslim legal concept closest to adoption.

The two differ in that the acknowledgment must not be the known son of another person, which is one of the requirements for acknowledgment, but the adoptee is the known son of another person in adoption. The Guardian and Ward Act of 1980, however, allows for the legal adoption of children from orphanages.


Given that adoption is a noble act and that there are many unwanted children in India, where there is an excessive amount of population, this should be done on a large scale by the general public. In India's adoption system, agencies and adoptive parents have noticed an increasing preference for girls over boys over the past few years. The rampant issue of female foeticides and crimes against women in India can be controlled and prevented in part through adoption.

Frequently Asked Question

Q1. Can an adopted child be returned?

Ans. According to the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, 1956, Section 15, Adoptions that have been legally finalized cannot be undone by the adoptive parents or anyone else, nor can be adopted children renounce their adoption and go back to their biological families.

Q2. Can someone adopt a child of their choice in India?

Ans. Single people with or without biological or adopted children are eligible to adopt as long as they meet the following requirements −

  • An unmarried female can adopt a kid of either gender.

  • An unmarried guy cannot adopt a girl.

  • The parent's age cannot be older than 55.

Q3. Where can someone adopt a child for free in India?

Ans. District Child Protection Unit (DCPU) - A district-level unit established by the State Government in accordance with Section 61A of the Act is referred to as a district child protection unit (DCPU). The district's orphan abandoned and surrendered children are identified, and the Child Welfare Commission declares them to be legally available for adoption.

Updated on: 31-Mar-2023


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