With a 2014 population of more than 1.27 billion, including 400 million minors, and poverty in many parts of India, the country has a relatively high percentage of orphaned children. Potential adopters from the United States must meet specific guidelines and undergo an often complex adoption process. In 2013, the U.S. State Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs reported that only 119 children were adopted from India. However, careful planning can help you successfully adopt an Indian child.
Criteria for Adoption
India has a specific set of parental age guidelines for adoption, which vary depending on the age of the child adopted and the marital status of the prospective parents. In general, you must be between the ages of 25 and 55 years to adopt an Indian child, according to the BCA. As of 2015, same-sex couples are not eligible to adopt from India. Parental income and other financial considerations are evaluated during the screening process; exact guidelines vary by adoption agency.
Contacting Adoption Agencies
The first step in the adoption process is to choose an agency that is approved under Hague Convention guidelines, a set of standards meant to protect the best interests of both children and adoptive parents in inter-country adoptions. Further, India requires the use of an adoption agency approved by the Indian Government’s Central Adoption Resource Authority. As of 2015, there are 27 such agencies in the United States listed on the CARA website.
Hague Convention-specific documents are required in all adoptions from India. After contacting an agency, your next step is to submit Form I-800A, Application for Determination of Suitability to Adopt a Child from a Convention Country. The form is available through the U.S. State Department's Intercountry Adoption website, and you must submit it to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. India requires additional forms and documents. Hindu adopters may obtain an adoption decree by an Indian court, while non-Hindu adopters must instead be declared guardians. India also requires Form I-600A, Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petition. Initial document collection usually takes about 5 months.
Home Studies and Referrals
If your Form I-800A application packet is approved, the UCIS will notify you in writing. Your selected adoption agency or service provider will then conduct a home study and may collect additional information. A home study usually consists of personal interviews with all adults in the family and a home visit, as well as physical, mental and financial evaluations. Once you are cleared for adoption, CARA will provide a child match, or referral, sending you detailed information about your prospective child. India initially tries to place children with families residing in India. Secondary preference is given to ethnic Indian families residing in other countries. Non-Indian adopters are typically eligible to adopt children over the age of four years, or those with mild-to-moderate medical needs. If you accept the match, your next step is to obtain immigration approval for your child using form I-800, Petition to Classify Convention Adoptee as an Immediate Relative. Once a match is made, CARA estimates that inter-country adoption takes an additional 4 to 6 months; however, the BCA states that it may take 6 months or more after the I-800 is approved, and an additional four weeks to two months for an Indian child to receive a passport.
Costs to Adopters
As of 2015, UCIS requires a filing fee of $720, as well as a fingerprint processing fee of $85 per adult in the household. Numerous other fees and costs apply, including home study, background check, deposits, training sessions, program fees, visas and travel expenses. According to the America World Adoption website, the average cost to adopt an Indian child as of 2015 is about $30,000 to $40,000.