Adoption has become quite the inspiring act and a much-covered trend in India, especially because actors and celebritiesstarting with Raveena Tandon and Sushmita Sen to Mandira Bedi and Sunny Leonehave famously adopted kids and shared their love with the world. But celebrities arent the only Indians who adopt children. According to data provided by the Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA), 3,142 in-country and 417 inter-country legal adoptions of children took place in India between 2020 and 2021. There are many reasons why these numbers of legally adopted children is increasing now, and partially, its due to the widespread acceptance of adoption as an ultimate act of love instead of charity.Now, as an Indian woman, if you are also planning or hoping to adopt a child, there are quite a few things you need to know. The first and foremost thing to know are the legal options you have, and this is where legal adoption laws passed in India come inand there are quite a few of those.Indian Laws That Lay The Ground For AdoptionThis author found it very interesting that legal adoption in India was basically associated with or created in accordance with personal law tenets, i.e. based on culture, faith or religion. This is primarily because under Indian law, legal adoption is seen as an agreement between the party willing to adopt and a child. So, if you identify as Hindu, Jain, Sikh or Buddhist, the law giving you the rights and methods to adopt is the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, 1956. On the other hand, the personal laws of Muslims, Christians, Jews and Parsis do not allow for adoptions, which is why if you identify as a member of any of these communities, the go-to law would be the Guardians and Wards Act, 1890.But these laws were largely limited because they were not secular and all-encompassing. Plus, illegal adoptions and abuse are still rife, which is why safeguarding the rights of children, including those who are adopted, became critical. This is the basis for the creation of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act of 2006, which has been updated multiple times since. Currently, the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 and the Adoption Regulations, 2017, are the primary laws that stipulate mechanisms through which persons can adopt children legally in India. CARA and its accredited associate, Adoption Coordination Agency (ACA), now govern the process of in-country and inter-country legal adoptionsand this is the agency you need to approach if you are interested in adoption.The Hindu Adoptions And Maintenance Act, 1956If you are a Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist or Jain woman interested in adoption, you can do so under the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, 1956. The law states that any female Hindu (including Buddhist, Jaina or Sikh by religion) who is not married, or if married, whose husband is not alive or her marriage has been dissolved or her husband has been declared incompetent by the court, has the capacity to take a son or daughter in adoption. A married Hindu, Sikh, Jain or Buddhist woman can adopt by giving consent to her husband, who must be the initiator and key party in the process. The following are some conditions that apply under this law: In case you want to adopt a son, there shouldnt be any living son in the succeeding three generations, whether by legitimate blood relationship or adoption, at the time of adoption. In case you want to adopt a daughter, you shouldnt have any daughter or sons daughter at the time of adoption. If a daughter is being adopted by a man, then the adoptive father must be at least 21 years older than the adoptive daughter. If a son is being adopted by a woman, then the adoptive mother must be at least 21 years older than the adoptive son.Its quite clear that this particular law has historically been used to address inheritance issues under Hindu law in India, and its roots can actually be traced back centuries. However, the law fails to give agency to married Hindu, Jain, Sikh or Buddhist women, relegating them to an inferior position in what should clearly be a partnership.The Guardians And Wards Act, 1890According to the personal laws of Muslims, Christians, Parsis and Jews, complete adoption is not allowed. This is the reason why, if you adhere to any of these religions, you cannot adopt a child, but can take guardianship of a child under Section 8 of the Guardians and Wards Act, 1890. Do note here though that going through this process makes a child your ward, not an adopted child, and only stays as such until they turn 21 years old.The Guardians and Wards Act, however, does not talk about getting the guardianship of orphans, abandoned and surrendered childrenbut now this loophole has been filled by the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act. Whats more, depending on the religion, the status and rights of an adoptive mother can change. For example, under Muslim law, a woman is not a natural guardian of a ward, even after her husbands deathunless appointed as such in her husbands will. Similar limitations are laid on women who identify as Christians, Parsis and Jews.The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015To make the adoption process in India smoother and more secularas well as to highlight the equality of women before lawthe Juvenile Justice Act or JJ Act was introduced and followed by the Adoptions Regulations, 2017. According to the JJ Act 2015s Section 57 and Regulation Five of AR 2017 describe the capacity of people to adopt in the following ways: The prospective parents should be mentally sound, physically fit and should be fully prepared to adopt the child, while being prepared to provide them with a good upbringing. If you are married, both you and your spouse need to provide consent. Both you and your spouse have to be married for at least two stable years to be eligible. The minimum age difference between an adoptive child and their parents should not be less than 25 years. Couples who have three or more children cannot adopt a child unless as per the special need mentioned in regulation 2(12) of AR 2017. A single male cannot adopt a girl child.Who Can Adopt?Under the JJ Act and the AR stipulations, women can adopt a child without any qualms as long as they meet the demands of the eligibility process. Whether married, divorced or single, any Indian woman can adopt under these new laws.The Adoption ProcessAdopting a child in India can be a long process since there are many stages and types of vetting that adoptive parents need to go through. The following are the procedures you should be aware of. The first step is to enroll yourself as prospective adoptive parents. This can be done by accessing the form and structure at the CARA website. Alternatively, you can also ask your local District Child Protection Officer (DCPO) to enlist you. The adoption agencies make a Home Study Report after evaluating different levels of compliances and qualifications of the family or adoptive parent within 30 days of successful enrolment. The Home Study Report is completed within three months from the date of enrolment, and its then posted on the database of the agency, following which adoptive parents can enter the process of selecting a child based on their decisions. CARA will inform the adoptive parents when a child is ready for adoption, and share all medical reports and other data about the child to the adoptive parents. They will also allow meetings between child and adoptive parents to create a bond. Once the adoptive parents are comfortable, further procedures to finalise the adoptions begin. All relevant documents have to be submitted to a lawyer, who then prepares and presents a petition to the court. The petition has to be signed by the adoptive parents before submission, in the presence of a court officer. Post the signing of the petition, the child is taken to a pre-adoptive foster care centre. The adoptive parents have to then attend the petitions hearing in court. The judge, apart from asking questions, also sets the amount of money the adoptive parents must invest in the name of the child. Once the investment is made, a receipt has to be shown to the judge, who will then pass the adoption orders. The adoptive parents can only take their child home after this process is complete.Documents Required For The Adoption ProcessThe following documents are required to start and complete the process of adoption: Proof of identity, i.e. voter ID card, pan card, Aadhar card, driving license, passport. Proof of address indicating residence in India exceeding 365 days. Certificate of marriage (if applicable) Three recent photographs of the adoptive family. Two letters of recommendations from persons who know the family (but cannot be from immediate spouses). Written consent of adoptive child, if they are above seven years of age.Key Dos and Donts For Adoptive ParentsAccording to CARA, the following are the Dos every adoptive parent must keep in mind: Only adopt from Specialised Adoption Agencies (SAA) recognised by the government. Read the Guidelines for adoption carefully on the CARA site. Follow the due procedure. Follow the steps to the T to complete your registration process. This includes uploading all relevant documents. For adoption related charges, follow Schedule 13 of the Guidelines Governing Adoption of Children (2015). Always make payments by cheque or draft, and dont forget to collect your receipt. In case of queries, reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org or call the toll free helpline number: 1800-11-1311.According to CARA, the following are the Donts every adoptive parent must keep in mind: Do not approach nursing homes, maternity homes, hospitals or any unauthorised institution or individual for adoption. Do not upload any incorrect document, or your registration can be cancelled. Do not pay additional adoption charges beyond the prescription of CARA. Do not engage or collaborate with touts or middlemen. They can mislead you to adopt a child illegally. Do not consider illegal adoptions because this can make you an unintentional part of child trafficking, and this has serious legal ramifications.For more information, head to CARA's website.Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)How much time does the adoption process take?With the nationwide streamlining of adoption processes by CARA, adoption today takes much less time than it did before.Will I be given a wide choice of adoptive children?The adoption process allows you to pick a child as per your preferences. Unfortunately, India has an overpopulation problem, which expands the options for adoptive parents.Can I adopt if I already have a child?Yes, but the gender of the child and the law under which youre applying comes into play here. If youre applying for the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, you can adopt a child opposite to the gender of the child you already have. Under the Guardians and Wards Act and the Juvenile Justice Act, you can adopt a child of any gender.Do I need a minimum income to adopt a child?According to CARA, you must have a minimum average monthly income of ₹3,000. Income lower than that can be considered if there are other assets and support systems in place, like owning property.