India is a member of the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (Hague Adoption Convention). Therefore, all adoptions between India and the United States must meet the requirements of the Convention and the U.S. law implementing the Convention.
Indian law does not permit foreigners to adopt Indian children, but rather to receive guardianship (or legal custody) of a child. This allows prospective adoptive parents to depart India and to adopt the child in the United States.
Updated: April 2008
WHO CAN ADOPT
Adoption between the United States and India is governed by the Hague Adoption Convention. Therefore to adopt from India, you must first be found eligible to be an adoptive parent by the U.S. Government. The U.S. Government agency responsible for making this determination is the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Learn more.
In addition to these U.S. requirements for prospective adoptive parents, India also has the following eligibility requirements for prospective adoptive parents:
- Residence Requirements: There are no residency requirements for intercountry adoptions from India.
- Age Requirements: Prospective adoptive parents can’t be less than 30 or more than 55 years of age. Married couples must have a combined age of 90 or less. Single parents up to the age of 45 can adopt. Prospective adoptive parents should be at least 21 years older than the child.
- Marriage Requirements: Prospective adoptive parents can be married or single.
- Income Requirements: There are no income requirements for intercountry adoptions from India.
- Other Requirements: Indian law only allows Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists to complete full adoptions of Indian children. However, Under the Guardian and Wards Act of 1890, foreigners may petition an Indian District Court (or Family Court in larger urban areas) for legal custody (guardianship) of a child for the purpose of taking the child abroad to conclude a full and final adoption.
WHO CAN BE ADOPTED
Because India is a member of the Hague Adoption Convention, children from India must meet the requirements of the Convention in order to be eligible for adoption. For example, the Convention requires that India attempt to place a child with a family in-country before determining that a child is eligible for intercountry adoption.
Learn more about the Convention’s requirements for adoptable children.
India makes an effort to place all abandoned or relinquished children with an Indian family in India first. If that is not possible, then they prefer that an Indian family abroad be found. Finally, if no Indian family can be found, then the child can be placed with a non-Indian resident family. Typically prospective adoptive parents resident in Indian will find the process goes much more quickly and smoothly than for non-resident prospective adoptive parents
HOW TO ADOPT
India’s Adoption Authority
Central Adoption Resource Agency
Because India is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, adoptions from India must follow a specific process designed to meet the Convention’s requirements. This process will follow six primary steps. You must complete these steps in the following order so that your adoption meets all necessary legal requirements.
1. Choose an Adoption Service Provider
2. Apply to be Found Eligible to Adopt
3. Be Matched with a Child
4. Apply for the child to be found Eligible for Adoption
5. Adopt the Child (or Gain Legal Custody) in India
6. Bring Your Child Home
Note: If you filed your I-600a with India before April 1, 2008, the Hague Adoption Convention does not apply to your adoption. Your adoption will continue to be processed in accordance with the immigration regulations for orphan adoptions. Learn more.
1. Choose an Accredited Adoption Service Provider
The first step in adopting a child from India is to select an agency in the United States that has been accredited. Only accredited agencies (and approved attorneys) can provide adoption services between the United States and India. Learn more.
Under Indian law, foreign prospective adoptive parents considering adoption of a child from India are required to use an adoption agency that is “enlisted” with the Indian Central Adoption Resource Agency (CARA).
Further details on enlisted agencies may be found on the CARA web site at http://www.adoptionindia.nic.in/carahome.html. These agencies then work with a local placement agency to complete the custody process in India on behalf of the prospective parents.
2. Apply to be Found Eligible to Adopt
After you choose an accredited adoption agency, you apply to be found eligible to adopt by the U.S. Government, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Learn how.
Once the U.S. Government determines you “eligible” and “suitable” to be an adoptive parent, your information will be forwarded to the adoption authority in India. India’s adoption authority will review your application to determine whether you are also eligible to adopt under India’s law.
3. Be Matched with a Child
If both the United States and India determine that you are eligible to adopt, and a child is available for intercountry adoption, the central adoption authority will provide you with a referral for a child. You cannot identify a specific child that you would like to adopt prior to the adoption authority providing this referral.
4. Apply for the Child to be Found Eligible for Adoption
After you accept a match with a child, you will apply to the U.S Government, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for permission to adopt that child. USCIS will determine whether the child is eligible under U.S. law to be adopted. Learn how.
In addition, a Consular Officer at the U.S. Embassy must review the child’s information and determine that the child appears to be eligible for a visa. As part of this process, the Consular Officer may require to see the “Panel Physician’s” medical report on the child. Learn more.
If the Consular Office determines that the child appears eligible to immigrate to the United States, he/she will send a letter (called the Article 5 letter) to India’s adoption authority. Read about the Article 5 Letter in the glossary.
5. Adopt the Child (or Gain Legal Custody) in India
Remember: Before you adopt (or gain legal custody of) a child, you must have completed the above four steps. Only after completing these steps, can you proceed to finalize the adoption or grant of custody.
The process for finalizing the adoption (or gaining legal custody) in India generally includes the following:
- Role of The Adoption Authority: The Central Adoption Resource Agency is the official national agency that oversees intercountry adoptions in India.
- Role of The Court: The court will normally require, at a minimum the “No Objection Certificate” (NOC), a birth certificate or affidavit of birth, and evidence of abandonment to grant the custody order.
- Time Frame: Once prospective adoptive parents have received approval to adopt abroad (approval of I-600A petition) and arrived in India, they can expect approximately two to three months to complete all formalities in India.
- Adoption Fees: Adoption fees to adopt an Indian child are approximately $3,500 USD. This amount does not include any U.S.-based expenses (such as the home study, application or petition filing costs, etc.). Prospective adoptive parents can expect to pay a total of between $12,000 and $15,000 USD for adoption services.
In the adoption services contract that you sign at the beginning of the adoption process, your agency will itemize the fees and estimated expenses related to your adoption process.
- Documents Required: All prospective adoptive parents must provide the following documents to the Indian District Court when applying for guardianship of an Indian child:
- Approved I-600A;
- Birth certificate for the child;
- Abandonment certificate for the child from an approved adoption agency;
- No Objection Certificate from CARA;
- Child’s Indian Passport
6.Bring Your Child Home
Now that your adoption is complete (or you have obtained legal custody of the child), there are a few more steps to take before you can head home. Specifically, you need to apply for three documents for your child before he or she can travel to the United States:
You will first need to apply for a new birth certificate for your child, so that you can later apply for a passport. Your name will be added to the new birth certificate.
Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he/she will need a travel document or Passport from India.
Note: Licenses held by Indian adoption agencies are generally valid for three years, and are renewable provided the agency is reviewed and approved for renewal. Not infrequently, the license renewal process can extend beyond the expiration of the license, leaving the agency temporarily without a license. Because of fraud concerns, regional passport offices in some parts of India, particularly southern India, will not issue passports to children in cases where an agency's license is in the process of being renewed or if it has been suspended or lapsed. Each Regional Passport Office is free to make its own determination on issuance policy, and if the Regional Passport Office determines not to issue a passport to the child, neither CARA nor the U.S. Embassy/Consulate nor the Central Passport Office can intervene to alter that determination, no matter how much of the adoption process may have been completed when the license lapsed.
U.S. Immigrant Visa
After you obtain the new birth certificate and passport for your child, you also need to apply for an U.S. visa from the United States Embassy for your child. Learn more.
Child Citizenship Act
For adoptions finalized abroad: The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 allows your new child to acquire American citizenship automatically when he or she enters the United States as lawful permanent residents.
For adoptions finalized in the United States: The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 allows your new child to acquire American citizenship automatically when the court in the United States issues the final adoption decree.
*Please be aware that if your child did not qualify to become a citizen upon entry to the United States, it is very important that you take the steps necessary so that your child does qualify as soon as possible. Failure to obtain citizenship for your child can impact many areas of his/her life including family travel, eligibility for education and education grants, and voting.
Learn more about the Child Citizenship Act.
Applying for Your U.S. Passport
A valid U.S. passport is required to enter and leave India. Only the U.S. Department of State has the authority to grant, issue, or verify United States passports.
Getting or renewing a passport is easy. The Passport Application Wizard will help you determine which passport form you need, help you to complete the form online, estimate your payment, and generate the form for you to print—all in one place.
Obtaining Your Visa
In addition to a U.S. passport, you also need to obtain a visa. A visa is an official document issued by a foreign country that formally allows you to visit. Where required, visas are attached to your passport and allow you to enter a foreign nation.
To find information about obtaining a visa for India, see the Department of State’s Country Specific Information.
Staying Safe on Your Trip
Before you travel, it's always a good practice to investigate the local conditions, laws, political landscape, and culture of the country. The State Department is a good place to start.
The Department of State provides Country Specific Information for every country of the world about various issues, including the health conditions, crime, unusual currency or entry requirements, and any areas of instability.
Staying in Touch on Your Trip
When traveling during the adoption process, we encourage you to register your trip with the Department of State. Travel registration makes it possible to contact you if necessary. Whether there’s a family emergency in the United States, or a crisis in India, registration assists the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in reaching you.
Registration is free and can be done online.
What does India require of the adoptive parents after the adoption?
There are no post-adoption requirements for intercountry adoptions from India.
What resources are available to assist families after the adoption?
Many adoptive parents find it important to find support after the adoption. Take advantage of all the resources available to your family -- whether it’s another adoptive family, a support group, an advocacy organization, or your religious or community services.
Here are some good places to start your support group search: