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Adoption:Our Experience-Adoption from India
Name: R S To all of you prospective and hopeful parents

We hope you find this useful.

Myself and my wife recently adopted a beautiful baby girl in India going through the entire Government of India adoption process (via CARA). It was efficient (within reason) and definitely worth the time and effort. We have set out some thoughts based on our experience, which is very recent (2009) and up to date and we hope this may be of some help to anyone contemplating adoption/currently in the process.

As we are NRIs, (Indian’s living overseas) the adoption process is a little different than it will be for those of you who may be Indian residents/Non Indian nationals. Whilst the summary below is based on our own experience as NRIs, the differences in procedure are not vast and can be easily established by reading this synopsis and then reading the CARA website. (CARA or the Central Adoption Resource Agency is the Central Government entity in India that regulates adoptions). You will find the website via google. I cannot post it here due to restrictionson posting a URL.


Firstly, ignore all of the stories around you that the adoption process in India is a ‘nightmare’. That is not wholly accurate. Adoption in any country (and we had researched several countries after hearing such stories ourselves) requires lots of patience, lots of perseverance, lots of time and some expense. India is no different and for those of you familiar with India/living in India, you will know very well that most things require patience in India. Your reward in return is a little pair of hands and feet that will call you ‘mama’ and ‘daddy’ and literally adore just about everything about you and your partner. After an exhausting day at work or taking care of baby, there is just no feeling like it.

NRIs (like us) and Non Indian nationals do need to put in just that extra bit more effort vs resident Indians, However, if successful, the eventual reward is exactly the same for everyone.

Adoption Process

Assuming that you fulfill the criteria for being considered as potential adoptive parents (there are certain criteria prescribed by the Indian Government and can be found on CARA’s website), then broadly this is how it goes:

Step 1

You need to have a “Home Study” report done, whereby a social worker assesses your suitability as potential adoptive parents. This involves an extensive questionnaire, along with a list of documents that you need to provide (e.g bank records, Police clearance, medical tests, references, employment letter etc). The list will be given to you by the Social worker with help on how to go about putting together the ‘pack’ for their review.

The Indian Government has appointed either social workers (individuals) or agencies in several countries to do the Home study and advise you on the documentation requirements. The full list of social workers/agencies is on the CARA website under EFAA’s and even if you live in a country, which is not covered on the CARA website (as we do), you should email CARA/call them in Delhi and they will either direct you to a neighboring country where they do have someone who could possibly fly across and cover you or they will suggest your identifying a local social welfare agency and getting the local Indian High Commission to review your choice and agree/reject the possibility of that local agency doing the Home Study for CARA.

Step 2

Once the Home Study report has been prepared, reviewed and checked by the Social worker and they are satisfied with your background and suitability for adoption, they will issue a summary report and an undertaking in a prescribed format and have it notarized and then attested by the Indian High Commission in that country. A copy will go to CARA and another to you. These documents along with all of the other documents that you had submitted for the ‘Home Study’ report need to be put into a folder for Step 3.

Step 3

Now you again look up CARA’s website and you will find a list of approved children’s homes (referred to as RIPAs or Recognized Indian Placement Agencies) who are essentially orphanages who are authorized by the Government (acting through CARA) to place orphaned and abandoned children legally.

Now you do some travelling!

Go and visit as many RIPAs as possible with multiple copies of your file. (Your social worker may wish to directly send the files to the particular RIPAs you have chosen or she/he may wish you to do so yourself). Start with Delhi, Pune and Mumbai (and I will explain why very shortly).

You will come across everything from disinterested orphanages to highly organized and dedicated orphanages. Some will give you stories of waiting lists upto 2 years long, others will do what they are supposed to, which is to review your file and try and match you with a child that is free for adoption.

A word to the wise and I cannot stress this point enough. There are indeed a lot of parents waiting to adopt and the theory says that there is a ‘pecking order’. The reality is that good orphanages want to see their children settled with good families and they will match suitable families with suitable children based on their experience rather than simply waiting lists alone.

It is the child’s welfare that is paramount and not the prospective parents. The key here is ‘do not be disillusioned by a few or many ' sub par meetings’, you are now getting closer to your first hug of your little baby bear.

Register yourself with every orphanage where you feel comfortable and they will get in touch with you (quicker than you would imagine, although it helps to stay in regular touch with them) when they have a child available who matches you and your partner. Usually they send photographs through to you, however please bear in mind something that one only realises with the benefit of hinsight, which is:

“ Photographs do not always do justice to children who have spent months in an orphanage-These are beautiful little souls who need lots of hugs and good nutrition, both of which are in limited supply at the best of orphanages- A few months of loving care from a family and you will not recognize the baby you adopted…trust yourself and most importantly your wife’s instincts on the baby and absolutely ignore advice from relatives (parents included)”

The more orphanages you register with the higher the likeleihood of your being offerred a child quicker. Simple maths and do not let anyone tell you otherwise.

Step 4

Once you are offered a child, you go to the relevant orphanage and do so swiftly to see the child in person. If you accept, the orphanage will charge you an adoption fee and apply to CARA on your behalf for a NOC (No objection certificate)*. This takes around 15 days and during that time you can visit the child at the orphanage every day. Once you have received the NOC, you are officially permitted custody of the child.

The catch is that you or your partner will need to remain in the country now with your new son/daughter, until the rest of the process is complete. This inconvenience pales into obscurity when you realize that YOU HAVE A SON/DAUGHTER!!!!! Congratulations.

* For Non Indian passport holders and Non Indian nationals there is another clearance that your RIPA will obtain in addition to the NOC.

Step 5

Now you begin the court process and here’s where the state (India has a 25+ states) in which your RIPA is based, becomes absolutely critical. The courts in India are organized by state. Whilst the legal system is common to all states and is a well established one, based on the same principles as the UK legal system i.e common law, India’s courts are inundated with a backlog of cases stretching back a decade in some cases. Add to this, underpaid judges, who are permitted a very large amount of annual leave and you have record setting delays for certain types of cases.

The good news is that the apex court in India i.e the Supreme court has as recently as 1 year back re-iterated that adoption cases must be cleared by judges giving priority to these types of cases. Courts in Delhi and Mumbai, the 2 most significant cities in India have for some time had one or more dedicated judges devoted to clearing adoption cases. The advantage therefore with adoptions coming to courts in Mumbai and Delhi from RIPAs in these areas, is that not only do these judges specialize in these cases and therefore move quickly (its all relative!), but they also know what they are doing and do not keep adjourning hearings whilst asking for new bits of paper.

We were told (and therefore please do your own homework on this issue) that this is not always the case in some states, where you may be in queue with other types of cases and even when you do go to the hearing, the judge has no idea on whether or not your application is complete and how he/she should apply the law. The end result could be multiple adjournments and frustration.

Anyhow, the RIPA you use, will have a known law firm who have represented parents before you. This lawyer will file an application in court for you and advise you on the process and time frame. This person is critical. Do ensure you develop a good relationship and understand his/her constraints as well as probe on what aspects can be speeded up i.e date of hearing. (you’d be surprised). Do offer to pay the legal fees, although it is supposedly included in your adoption charge.

There are 2-3 court hearings over a period that can be in total between 2-4 months (in Delhi and Mumbai atleast…not sure of other states/places). You do not have to attend except for the last one, where you will be given legal approval and a deed of adoption prepared on your behalf.

Congratulations, you are legally daddy and mummy!! It’s a nice nice feeling.

Step 6

Almost there!

Now you can apply for a passport. You send your court adoption deed to a passport office (there are several in India) and they will issue an Indian passport for your child within 2 weeks and sometimes even less.

Thereafter, depending on your residency status overseas/nationality, you will need to speak to the relevant embassy regarding the visa.

We hope this has been useful. When we ourselves started the process, we had to cobble together information from so many sources and over so many months that we swore that if we were successful, we’d try and help others with as much comprehensive information as possible and as long as our experience remained relevant and up to date.

Good Luck and God speed your search.

PS: For those of you for whom it may not be obvious, the entire process from start to finish requires no knowledge or need for any other language than English.

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Name: Arra
Subject:  RE:Our Experience-Adoption from India
Tahnks for sharing this important information. It means a lot . This might help many people in need . Hope to see these important step in future too.

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Name: RK
Subject:  citizenship?
Did you live in US when you started/finished this process? Can a non-citizen NRI adopt from India?
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Name: maya
Subject:  hi
my sister also in USA and she is not the citizen over there but her husband got the citizenship and both are planning to come back after some years so it is possible for her to adopt a child over there?
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Name: Sunayana
Subject:  Nri adoptive parents
Dear R S , please advise were you or your spouse were US citizens when you adopted your child.
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Name: Sunayana
Subject:  Nri adoptive parents
Please advise , we are an indian couple living in US , we are not us citizens as if now but here on a visa and want to adopt an indian infant but I have read that you cannot adopt internationally if you are not a US citizen. Is that true .
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Name: rashi shirodkar
Subject:  hello
hello RS
CAN U PLEASE TELL US which are the ADOPTION CENTERS IN MAHARASHTRA, u have come across in india as friendly, we are from india.
When we had called SOME ADOPTION CENTERS, they said they dont give from other states, we are from goa.

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Name: Siya
Subject:  Question for RS
Dear RS,

I found your post very useful. Thanks for such precise information which I found very encouraging.
I understand that one has to go through the intercountry adoption centre in the UK for establishing a link with a RIPA/CARA in India. Do we have to necessarily go through this route or can we do this ourselves as well after the home study (Assessment) has been done?
Will it be possible to establish more contact with you thru Telephone/meeting. We would really appreciate it.

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Name: Mahi
Subject:  Regarding adoption (we are residents of USA)
Hello, we are permanent residents of US (have to wait one more year to qualify for applying for citizenship) and citizens of India. We are looking into adopting a kid (the sooner the better). As far I know one of us has to be citizens even to start the international adoption process. I am really hoping we could atleast start the process so that
by the time we get citizenship, we can get the baby sooner. We have our biological kid, not sure if this is something that would any hindrance.
We always wanted to adopt since we were married. It was a good accident (a great one-)) that we have our daughter. We are also exploring the option of domestic adoption. Do you or any of them you know done a domestic adoption?

Any input will be of great help.


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Name: Prospective Parents
Subject:  time duration
Dear RS, we will be commencing the adoption procedure soon and would like to know how many months does the whole procedure take from the initial interview until the final adoption deed.
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Name: Manish
Subject:  Re: time duration
Hi ´ Prospective Parents´ ,

The timeline is a huge unknown variable, especially if you are adopting as an overseas Indian. Most agencies will tell you to be prepared for a 2 year wait, maybe even a while longer. Things are slightly better for domestic couples.

Several things have changed with the 2011 guidelines recently issued by CARA specifically applications will now no longer be accepted directly by orphanages, but will need to go through CARA.

I´ m not sure how this will affect the speed of the process - while CARA always has noble intentions to improve things, its performance in reality leaves a lot to be desired.

Congrats on your decision to adopt, and welcome to the wait. Like RS says, it´ ll be worth it.


P.S. Please visit our blog titled ´ Adopting a Child from Mumbai - A Guide for Non-Resident Indians´ . (you can Google for it, I´ m not allowed to post the URL here). There´ s info there based on our adoption in late 2009 - a bit dated, but it might still be of some use to you.
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Name: NB
Subject:  adoption
Dear RS, your post is very encouraging..thank u and congratulation to u and ur wife. We are NRI couple residing in Dubai wish to adopt a child from Mumbai/Delhi. We wish to talk to the couple who have actually gone to similar process from Dubai. Is there anyways we could get contact nos. or mail id as we have so many questions in our mind? Thanks so much.
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Name: R.S
Subject:  Adoption
Happy to talk re our experience, however site does not permit me to post tel numbers or email IDs.
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Name: R.S
Subject:  Adoption
Hi N.B
Process for everyone in the Middle East (i.e NRIs) is near identical. Start by contacting Omana Menon, who is the CARA rep in Dubai. Her Telephone number is on the CARA website (unfortunately cannot post tel numbers here). She will assess you and your wife and do a homestudy report. After that follow my original posting for the next steps, with the caveat that no two experiences will be the same in terms of time, however the process will be largely similar. P.S Stick with Delhi/Mumbai unless you want to go bananas with frustration.
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Name: Swati
Subject:  adoption
Hi! Thanks for writing such a wonderful article. I just wish i would have come through this before i did the hard work myself. Anyway its very encouraging, thoughtful and has clarified the doubts whatever remained! We are new to Kuwait and now about to start the process of adoption. Definitely as all of you mentioned i also got quite disheartened when i contacted a few agencies and got their response that this could well take years but we should just keep our hopes alive and keep praying to the God. Just wondering how long does this HSR takes? and how much time we have after that to go to India to get ourselves register? Thanks once again!
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Name: Raashi
Subject:  Adoption
Dear RS, just wanted to know can u give me mrs. omna menon' s contact details also pls if u have a list of documents which she would require for home study... can u pls post it here! and yeah congrats to you and yr wife. felt good after reading yr article... it encourages me more and i have realised not to lose hope!
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Name: Komal
Subject:  question for RS
Dear RS, you are saying that we can visit as many orphanages to select a baby. It is not true any more right?

I am a NRI in US and according to the information I got we see the baby once we get referral of the baby(photo)

Rules have changed. When did you adopt?

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Name: RQ
Subject:  Adoption agencies in US
My husband and I plan to adopt from India. We are US citizens although our roots lie in India. Do you know of any particular Adoption agency in US that is better of the lot? Please let me know.
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Name: RS
Subject:  Question for RS

Good news is that rules have not changed. I am in touch with several people adopting currently and we ourselves adopted 18 months ago.

Bad news is that certain countries and US being one of them, curtail this freedom and channel prospective parents through a single entity at both ends. This creates enormous delay and frustration as certain orphanages end up with huge waiting lists of parents, whilst others do not.

Good Luck and thank you for raising this issue as my note does not clarify the US rules, as we have nothing to do with that part of the world.

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Name: Manish
Subject:  Note for RS
Hi RS,
Your posting is so valuable that I have taken the liberty of reproducing it in its entirety on my blog. In a way, you inspired us to record our experiences in detail for the benefit of other parents. Please let me know if you object to the same.
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Name: RS
Subject:  Note for RS

More than welcome. My purpose in writing this note was to help whosoever we can as it means we have helped (in some small way) a little child without parents and parents without a child. Hence the more people it reaches the better.

Best Wishes

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