25 Factors to Consider When Adopting From India

adopting from India


Click on each factor to learn more. Current as of January, 2017. This information is subject to change; therefore, check with an agency that places from this country for the most current information.
Parental Age
Parents must be at least 25 years older than the child. To adopt a child younger than 4 years old, the composite age of the parents must be less than 90 years. To adopt a child between 4 and 8 years old, the composite age of the parents must be less than 100 years. To adopt a child older than 8 years old, the composite age of the parents must be less than 110 years.
2 divorces per couple
Children in Family
Officially up to 4 children, but Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) has recently turned down families with four children. Check with an adoption agency for information about your specific situation.
Medical Restrictions
Parents should be in good physical, mental and emotional health, and must not have any life-threatening medical conditions.
Single Applicant
Single women and men are allowed on a case-by-case basis. Single women may adopt either boys or girls, while single men are only allowed to adopt boys. Single applicants must be at least 25 years older than the child. To adopt a child younger than four years old, the parent must be younger than 45 years old. To adopt a child between 4 and 8 years old, the parent must be younger than 50 years old. To adopt a child older than 8 years old, the parent must be younger than 55 years old.
Sexual Orientation
Does not knowingly place with homosexuals
Children Available
Healthy children 5 to 15 years old, children with mild to moderate special needs 3 to 6 years old, children with moderate to severe special needs 2 to 15 years old. Sibling groups are occasionally available.
South Asian
Boys and girls; parents may request a gender.
Referral Method
Once the dossier is approved and the family is found eligible to adopt, they are placed on a wait list. Non-resident Indians are placed on the same wait list as domestic families. Once the family reaches the top of the list, the Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) provides the adoption agency with photos and reports on two children. The family then has 96 hours to make a decision and 30 days to complete the official acceptance paperwork, or they are returned to the bottom of the list. CARA approves the match and issues a Non Objection Certificate, allowing the adoption agency to file an adoption petition with a local court.
Travel in Country
1 trip, approximately 10-14 days long. Only one parents is required to travel, but it is strongly recommended that both parents make the trip. Some courts may require a second trip for a brief appearance before a judge and a monetary deposit.
Wait After Referral
8-18 months
Approximate Cost
$21,000 – $25,000 + travel
How Children Enter Government Care
Relinquishment or abandonment due to poverty and social stigma and lack of support for single mothers; removal due to neglect or abuse; disease or death of a parent.
Prevalence of FASD
Historically drinking during pregnancy is not common and IA doctors report that they are not seeing much evidence of FASD.
Adequacy of Medical Reports
Limited; children are tested for HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis B and TB. Generally, children with special needs have more information. Additional information is not always available.
Post Adoption Reports
Required at 1, 3, 6, 9, 12, 18 and 24 months.
Additional Information
  • India gives first preference to domestic adoption and non-resident Indians families, who receive the youngest and healthiest children. Local adoption has tripled in the last years and domestic families are on wait lists. Non-Indian parents are considered after Indian parents. Families of non-Indian descent are eligible to adopt identified children with special needs through the Waiting International Children (WIC) program.
  • CARA is very strict about age requirements and uses a computer to calculate, based years, months and days, each applicant’s age. If you are near an age cut-off, talk with an adoption agency about your situation.
  • Families must be able to show that they earn above 125% of the national poverty guidelines.
  • Non-Indian applicants must be open to children 4 years and older at time of referral.
  • India has a 47% child malnutrition rate and low birth weight is very common.
  • Requirements vary greatly with each region with judges following their own court rules. Agencies work in specific regions and should be your best guide to the idiosyncrasies of the judges in that region.
  • India has expanded the number of licensed Indian adoption, which helps to increase the number of children for adoption. However, the competency and capacity of the various institutions in India is variable.
  • It is difficult to provide an accurate estimate of the wait time for referrals. CARA now has 10,000 families (mostly domestic Indian families) in the queue. Wait times for referrals for young, healthy children will likely exceed a year, possibly longer. CARA does not disclose wait list positions.
  • The wait for a boy is generally shorter than for a girl, since domestic families prefer to adopt girls.
  • Parents are required to notify CARA when a child adopted from India acquires U.S. citizenship.
© Creating a Family
Available from www.CreatingaFamily.org, the national adoption and infertility education and support non-profit. Please do not reprint without giving credit to Creating a Family and a link to the website.

Image credit: Michal Huniewicz