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Adoption – Meaning | History | Law | Scope | Rights

This article is written by Akansha Sethi, a student of Delhi Metropolitan Education


Parenthood is one of the most essential periods of life. This is a period that every person should experience in their lifetime. There are many reasons due to which a couple cannot have a baby like biological infertility, economic constraints, limited time factors, etc But there are few people who are not that lucky to go through this experience. Though there are many other ways to receive this boon of parenthood like in vitro fertilization this needs lakhs of rupees to be done and not everyone can afford it. After all this, there comes the process of adoption which means that the child is under the guidance of one group acquires a new group that is socially and legally not wrong. After the Adoption, the new group is responsible for the child. Here the old group is the party that is giving the baby for adoption and the new group is the party that is adopting a baby.



The adoption rights have not always been the same. In earlier times only boys were allowed to be adopted. The idea of adoption arises in ancient times but their idea was slightly different from the approach that followed in today’s times. Earlier the practice of adoption was done to emphasize political and the economic interest of the adopter also providing a legal tool that strengthened political ties between wealthy families and created male heirs to manage estates. Infant adoption in ancient times was rare. Children were usually picked to work as slaves in empires. 


In the middle age era As the idea of institutional care gained acceptance, and rules and regulations were made on how to place the children in their homes. Boys were employed as artisans and daughters were married off under the authority of the institution. This system extended till the 19th century  Under the direction of social welfare activists, orphan asylums began to promote adoptions based on sentiment rather than work; children were placed out under agreements to provide care for them as family members instead of under contracts for an apprenticeship. This idea was implemented strongly due to the enactment of the first modern adoption law that came in 1851 in the commonwealth of Massachusetts.


The next stage of adoption’s evolution fell to the emerging nation of the United States. Due to American Civil War, there were a lot of children that immigrated to America due to which the orphan system was flowing off. Charles Loring Brace decided to ship off the children from urban to rural states so they can have a better family. This moment is known as the orphan train movement. But unfortunately, instead of adoption most of the children were put to work as servants and helpers for the family.

In the same period, Progressive Movement came into action due to the order from the white house prevailing the system of the orphanage. In the period of 1960s and 1970s, there was a major rise in the adoption of children because of the introduction of pills and making the contraceptive methods legal. This idea of adoption introduced by America was spread globally and many states introduced their adoption laws. Some of the states were England and wales came up with their adoption law in 1926, the Netherlands in 1956, Sweden in 1959, and West Germany in 1977.



According to the juvenile justice Act of 2015, adoption has been recognized of five types :

  1. The child is abandoned by the parents and is adopted by unrelated persons living in the country.
  2.  The child is abandoned by the parents and is adopted by unrelated parents living outside the country.
  3. The child who is abandoned but lives with the relatives inside the country
  4. The child is abandoned but lives with relatives outside the country. 
  5. Adoption of the child by the step-parents who lives in the country.

  1. Open Adoption-  As the name suggests open adoption is where both parties are open about their needs and expectations from each other. In this, the birth mother can also choose the parents to whom she wants to give her baby. The birth mother and the parents can also remain in touch with each other if they want.
  2. Semi-open adoption –In this, it is not mandatory for real and adoptive parents to be in touch. Though the real parents can still ask for photographs or videos of the child through the adoption agency. At any point then adoption can be converted into open or closed types of adoption.
  3. Closed Adoption – This kind of adoption generally takes place in the places where the child is rescued from an abusive or inhospitable environment. The adopted parents and the real parents are not allowed to have any of the communication and they are not even introduced to each other. 
  4. Intra Family or Relative adoption-  This adoption takes place within the family. If the parents are not able to take care of their children any other member of the family can legally adopt. 
  5. Domestic Adoption- When both the adoptive parents and the real parents live in the same country. The parents who want to adopt the child can contact any adoption agency for the process. 
  6. International Adoption- It means that both the adoptive and real parents do not live in the same country. The real parents give their child to the parents to the other couple who lives in their native country. Some countries still do not allow adoption even India has the main priority is of domestic adoption. There should be proof of Non-resident Indians (NRIs) or persons of Indian origin (PIOs) then only they are allowed to for international Adoption. 


Few things are mandatory to be fulfilled by the parents for adopting the child: 

  1. The parents should be mentally fit and stable for bringing the child to the family. 
  2. Any person can adopt a child irrespective of his or her marital status. If a couple already has children can also adopt another child after agreeing with each other. A single female is allowed to adopt a child of any gender but a single male can not adopt a girl.
  3. If a couple does not have a stable marital status for at least 2  years. 
  4. In the case of a couple, the composite age of the prospective adoptive parents shall be counted.
  5. The age difference between the child and the parents should not be less than 25 years. 
  6. The couples having 3 or more children can not adopt any more children unless and until their condition satisfies special needs children as defined in sub-regulation (21) of regulation 2. 


There is a total of 9 steps that are needed for adoption these are:

  1. Registration- The first step is registration where the couples have to register themselves for adoption in Recognised Indian Placement Agencies (RIPA) and Special Adoption Agency (SPA), the couple can visit any nearby adoption agency or can contact a social worker to explain the further process.
  2. Home Study-  Social worker is sent to the parent’s place to examine that the environment for raising the kid is fine or not.
  3. Referring of the child- In this step, the agency shares the medical or physical information of the child to the couples and if needed they even arrange a meeting so that both are comfortable with each other. 
  4. Accepting of a child- once the parents and the child are comfortable with each other. They can sign the documents for the acceptance of the child.
  5. Filing of petition- After the acceptance of the child all the other necessary documents are submitted to the lawyer so he can file the petition of adopting a child in court. 
  6. Pre-adoption care foster- before actually adopting the child the couple goes to his/ her pre-adoption home to get familiar with the habits of the child.
  7. Court Hearing- There is no arrangement of a court hearing where it gets finalized that the child is adopted by the following couple and investment is made by the couple in the name of the child. 
  8. Court orders- once the procedure of investment is complete court passes the order to give the child to the couple.
  9. Follow up In this last step the social worker can go to the place where the adopted child is residing to check that if she or she is well-taken care of. 


Adoption may be a time-consuming process but its after-effects are very fulfilling. Adoption has a great history but the main motive of it was to make happy families which seems to be becoming true to some extent. Laws enacted by the country have a major hand in stopping the exploitation of children. 

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