With the growth in families of Indian origin living in Loudoun County, Virginia, where I practice, I wanted to take the time to provide current information on what it takes to adopt a child from India. My assistant Brittany Alness and I had the pleasure of talking with Jane Lee and Sue Orban from the , a Hague accredited adoption agency. Jane is the senior program manager for Bulgaria, India and Korea and Sue is the outreach and intake coordinator.
We learned that there are 3 different program types: India Heritage Program, Traditional India Program, and Relative Adoption Program
India Heritage Program: This is for families that have one prospective parent that is a non-resident Indian (NRI) and has a valid Indian passport or is an overseas citizen (OCI) of India.
- Although the Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) of India has been inconsistent in practice, it does promote that favor be given to NRI families when being matched by individual orphanages (RIPAs). CARA wants families of Indian origin to adopt, but OCI cases are given less preference than NRI cases.
Traditional India Program: Families who are open to children with mild-to-moderate medical or cognitive diagnoses, including correctable needs and/or families open to children over the age of 4. This program is open to non-Indian families.
Relative Adoption: Family must have an attorney in India as well as an attorney in the States.
We asked Jane and Sue to describe the procedures for an Indian adoption. India is a party to the Hague Adoption Convention, as is the U.S., and as a result, the U.S. and Indian adoption processes must happen in a specific order. The U.S. Department of State adoption web-site contains a helpful summary of the processes.
How Long will it take: Jane and Sue commented that one of the biggest frustrations is the difference in timelines between the different Indian states. Each state in India has a different government system and the time will vary by state. Even within the same state, the Indian timeline is not always predictable and the family has to be flexible.
Travel Requirements: The Court Process is usually done by power of attorney and the family will not need to be present for court. However, all families have to travel at least once to India for about 10 days. During the trip, the family has three goals: obtain physical custody of the child, schedule the medical appointment, and obtain the visa at the U.S. Embassy.
The state of Andra Pradesh requires two visits—once to appear in court and once to obtain the visa for the child.
Citizenship of the Child: If the family adopts under the Juvenile Justice Act, the child will obtain an IH-3 visa and become a citizen upon arriving home. However, in the state of Kerala, the adoption is completed under a different law, Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act (HAMA), and in that case, the child will receive an IH-4 visa. The child will become a lawful permanent resident upon arrival in the U.S. and the family will need to re-adopt or finalize the adoption of the child.
Limitations to adopting from India:
Age and Marital Restrictions:
If the collective age of the couple is 90 or under, then they can be matched with child 0-3 years of age.
If the collective age of the couple is 91 -105, then they must be matched with a child over the age of 3.
Single women can adopt: If you are 47 or younger, you can be matched with a child 0-3 years of age. If you are over 48-50, you will be matched with a child 3 years or older. However, if you are single and over the age of 50, you may not be permitted to adopt.
General Agency fees (vary by state)--fee for home-study and post-placement visits
Country fee: $10,500—Divided into two payments: one portion due at the time of referral acceptance and the second portion due at the time of the issuance of the No Objection Certificate
Third party fees: I-800, medical exam, country travel
can perform the home-study and post-placement visits in MD, VA, Minnesota and Western Wisconsin. If the family does not reside in MD, VA, Minnesota and Western Wisconsin, then they need to have a home study done by licensed agency in their state.
Consider adopting from India: I have worked with single women and married couples who have adopted from India and they are thrilled to become parents through intercountry adoption. However, they have all stated that adopting from India requires flexibility and perseverance. It is especially important to select a Hague accredited agency with a lot of experience in India and is one such agency.
Drafted by Brittany Alness, staff member of the Law Offices of Karen S. Law, PLC.
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