WCD Ministry to bring rules to ease inter-country adoption

Currently, families have to approach the courts for the no-objection certificates.

THE MINISTRY of Women and Child Development will soon issue a notification to facilitate inter-country adoption under the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act (HAMA). According to the new regulation, families adopting under this Act can receive a no-objection certificate from Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA), the government’s adoption authority, to take the child abroad.

Currently, families have to approach the courts for the no-objection certificates.

Last month, the ministry issued a notification waiving the two-year mandatory period that an adoptive family would have to stay in the country for constant monitoring by CARA and other authorities. According to this new rule, adoptive families can now intimate Indian diplomatic missions two weeks in advance of their intent to travel with the adopted child. The families are to furnish all details, including that of residence. The Indian missions will then monitor the progress and security of the adopted child, instead of CARA and other authorities.

Ministry officials on Tuesday said these measures were being taken to facilitate ease in carrying out adoptions, while at the same time ensure prevention of abuse or child trafficking.

Enacted in 1956, the HAMA is a personal law applicable to Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains and largely pertains to adoptions within a family. Adoptions under it are simpler as the two parties along with the child only need to approach a court. On the other hand, CARA has strict stipulations prior to and after adoptions, such as Home Study Reports of the prospective parents which are prepared through social workers of selected Specialised Adoption Agency.

A senior ministry official said, “There were many challenges under HAMA pertaining to taking a child to another country. Sometimes a parent would get a job in another country but would not be able to go because it was difficult to get an NOC. We have now made this easier.”

“We asked CARA to frame regulations under HAMA on how inter-country adoption can take place, as there were no protocols for this. So, when NRIs or OCIs would adopt under HAMA, they would face problems getting NOCs and would not be able to take the child back with them, as it was difficult getting a passport or visa. The District Magistrate will now carry out a verification and within a month of the application, send recommendations to CARA for NOCs,” said the official.

The official said the Ministry of External Affairs has been requested to have Indian missions to track the well-being of children adopted from here in foreign countries.

The WCD Ministry will bring in a third notification soon, said officials, which will define classifications of adoptions. “The Juvenile Justice Act provides that an adopted child be relocated in a similar socio-cultural environment. What this means is that the child is adopted within a community so she can adapt to the environment easier, including sharing the same language and culture as the parents. The present system does not give this issue a priority,” said the official.

“But with the new rule, we have decided that parents from the same state as the child will be given first priority for adoption, and then parents from within the country, only after which parents living in other countries – both Indian and foreign – will be given the opportunity,” said the official.

According to CARA data, 417 inter-country adoptions took place in 2020-21, and 2,693 in the past five years. As opposed to this, 26,213 children have been adopted domestically through CARA in the past five years. There is no official data available on how many adoptions take place under HAMA each year, but officials said the numbers could be much higher.

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