Laws of Adoption in India and Role of Pediatrician

Table of Content

  • What is Adoption?
  • What are the Laws of Adoption?
  • Eligibility of Prospective Adoptive Parents
  • Post-adoption Follow up
  • The Role of a Pediatrician in Adoption
  • Pre- Adoption role
  • Pre-Adoption Visit
  • Medical Evaluation of the newly adopted child
  • Physical Examination • Labs • Immunization • Other
  • Supporting Adoptive families and the child

Related DNB theory Questions

  1. Role of Pediatrician in Adoption of a child (1995/June 2013/June) 10 marks
  2. Adoption(2003/Dec) 10 marks
  3. Laws of adoption in India (2016/Apr) 4 marks
  4. Laws of Adoption in India. Discuss The Role of Pediatrician in Adoption of a Child (5+5)

What is Adoption?

The process by which a child is separated legally from his/ her biological parents.
The child becomes the lawful child of his/her adoptive parent.

All the rights, privileges, and responsibilities post-adoption are similar to those in the case of a biological child.

What are the Laws of Adoption in India?

There are two laws related to adoption in India.

  1. Hindu Adoption Maintenance Act, 1956
  2. Juvenile Justice - Care and Protection of Children Act), 2015 (Juvenile Justice Act, Model JJ Rules 2016, Adoption Regulations 2017 )

1) Hindu Adoption Maintenance Act (HAMA)

Only a Hindu, Buddhist, Jain, or Sikh husband above the age of 18 can adopt under this act and only with the consent of his living wife (Husband is the adopter and wife is merely a consenter).

The exception of the consent, if the wife is unsound, died, renounced the world, or ceased to be Hindu.

Under this law

  1. A single female (unmarried, divorced, or widow) can also adopt.
  2. As Single male can adopt provided his age is at least 21 years.
  3. A person having a male child can not adopt a male child.
  4. A person having a girl child can not adopt a girl child.
  5. The age difference between the adoptive father and the adoptive girl child to be a least 21 years.
  6. The child has to be below 15 years of age.
  7. Provision of payment or reward and any contravention shall be punishable.

Adoption can be concluded through a registered adoption deed. This is subject to compliance with the provisions of the Act.

Courts permission to adopt under this act is required only in the following cases.

  1. Where both the father and mother are dead.
  2. Where both the father and mother have completely and finally renounced the world.
  3. Where both the father and mother have abandoned the child
  4. Where both the father and mother have been declared to be of unsound mind by the court concerned
  5. Where the parentage of the child is not known

Valid Adoption cannot be canceled.

2) Juvenile Justice Act - Adoption

Anybody irrespective of religion can adopt a child under Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act, 2015). Nothing in this act shall apply to adoption under HAMA.

Children up to the age of 18 can be adopted under this Act.

Law also covers Inter-country adoptions. Adoption regulations are framed by the Authority known as Central Adoption Resource Authority.

Children of relatives can also be adopted by In-country parents (Section 56(2)) and by Inter-country parents as well. (Section 60).

India is a signatory to Hague Convention on Inter-Country Adoption.

Orphan, Abandoned &Surrendered (OAS) children declared legally free for adoption By CWC can be placed in the In-country and Intercountry Adoptions procedure.

Eligibility of Prospective Adoptive Parents in India

  1. A couple/single parent can adopt.
  2. A single male is not eligible to adopt a girl child.
  3. PAPs age eligibility criteria are pre-defined, click here for details (Read Reference- 1 for details)
  4. Minimum 2 years stable marital relationship is mandatory.
    PAPs with 3 or more children shall not be eligible to adopt a normal OAS child.

The eligibility and suitability of the PAPs are ascertained through a Home Study.

Post-adoption Follow up

Post-adoption Follow-up of the adoptive family, both in case of In-country and Inter-country is undertaken for 2 years.

Attention: Guardians and Ward Act, 1890 is not an Adoption Law.

Take a look at steps involved in adoption processhere.

The Role of a Pediatrician in Adoption

Pre- Adoption role

  1. Discourage illegal Adoptions.
  2. Inform prospective Adoptive parents of the law of the land and the procedure involved.
  3. It is imperative to understand that one of the main objectives of Adoption in India is to ensure children with disabilities/Orphans children too have the right to access loving family care.

Pre-Adoption Visit

  1. Healthcare professionals should discuss with parents the pre-adoption health records of the child.
  2. It is a challenge when biological parentage is not known as there is a potential complication of tracing genetic traits. This should be discussed as well.

Comprehensive Medical Evaluation of the newly adopted child

1) Complete Physical Examination

A thorough examination must include.

  1. Vital Signs.
  2. Growth trends.
  3. Complete Physical Examination, with Emphasis on Skin and genitalia.
  4. Neurological Examination with Emphasis on Developmental and Neurological abnormalities.

2) Diagnostic Testing:

  1. Infectious Diseases like HBV, HCV, HIV 1 &2 should be ruled out
  2. PPD test.
  3. Stool examination for enteral Pathogens.
  4. Anaemia Screening.
  5. Nutritional and Metabolic Screening.
  6. Screen for hemoglobinopathies.
  7. Blood Lead concentration.
  8. New Born Screening (if Young).
  9. Rickets Screening.

3) Immunization

  1. Evaluate Immunization Status.
  2. Administer age-appropriate vaccination if not done.

4) Other:

  1. Hearing Screening.
  2. Vision - Examination, Refractory Error, and Fundus.
  3. Dental Caries and Paediatric Dentistry referral.
  4. Developmental Screening and Assessment and Intervention if required.
  5. Speech, Language, occupational, and Physical Therapy Referral when needed.
  6. Address unique behavioral issues and psychological challenges that may the child experience.

Supporting Adoptive families and the child

The parent should tell children if they're adopted, and Pediatricians should help them address challenges in rearing an adopted child.

Clinicians should teach adoptive parents to be open about the nature of the adoption with their child while still establishing that an adopted family is still a real family.

Children do not understand the difference between biological/ adoptive families until the age of 3 years.

A pediatrician is an important resource and advisor for parents dealing with psychological and emotional problems facing adopted children.


  1.  Central adoption resource Authority (CARA) - Eligibility Criteria
  2. All You Need To Know About Child Adoption Laws In India

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  4. OSCE -Imaging


about authors

Avinash T | DCH DNB (Pediatrics), Dip Child right laws

Avinash has completed DNB in Pediatrics after DCH, from CSI hospital, Bengaluru with further training in child rights law

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