There are several legislations for adoption in India and to make this law secular several steps were made but all those attempts remained without any conviction from the legislature. A bill was passed in the year 1972 called the “The adoption of children bill” and it was accepted by all religions except the Muslim community. Around the same time, the national adoption bill was about to enter the statute but it remained a sad tale.
Evolution of JJ act
Therefore the Juvenile justice act came into force in India. Juvenile justice is a concept that is prevalent in India and many other countries. It is a flexible and active system that provides security and secures the right of the juveniles. Initially, it was promulgated to achieve the objectives of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and the same was ratified by India in 1992. This law addresses issues regarding adoption and unreasonable delays in the system of adoption.
Section 2(2) of Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act, 2015, defines ‘Adoption’ means “the process through which the adopted child is permanently separated from his biological parents and becomes the lawful child of his adoptive parents with all the rights, privileges and responsibilities that are attached to a biological child”. The primary aim of adoption is to protect children who cannot be cared for by their biological parents. The child should be given care and protection and should be brought up with responsibility. Adoption of children under the provisions of the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015 cannot be restricted only to orphaned, abandoned or surrendered children or those in conflict with the law or need of care and protection. As prescribed under the act, those children can be adopted for rehabilitation. To adopt these children, the government shall enforce guidelines and recognize voluntary organizations. Those institutions in each district run by those voluntary organizations for children who are orphans, abandoned children and those children who require care and protection are given to the child welfare committee for adoption. In this case, a child welfare committee has all the authority to declare those children for adoption. They can also determine the legal status of those children. When the child is taken for adoption, then there will be a termination of right from the parent’s side.
Features of the act
- Under the act, once the prospective parents are going to adopt a child whether living in India or any foreign country, an application has to be file in a civil court by the adoption agency. Then with the obtained order, the court establishes that the child belongs to the adoptive parents.
- According to Sec. 41 (6) of the Juvenile Justice (Care & Protection of Children) Act, 2000 the court allows a child to be given in adoption to persons who are married or unmarried, to those parents who already have a biological son or a daughter and the childless couples.
- The Committee shall give counselling for parents. They narrate the difficulties and explain the consequences of adoption. They also explore the possibilities of parents retaining the child and if the parents are unwilling to retain, then such children shall be kept initially in foster care and later arranged for sponsorship.
- In the case of the parents living abroad and if they want to adopt a child from their relative in India, then an order from the court has to be obtained and they should apply for a no-objection certificate from the Central Adoption Regulation Authority.
- The act states that the adoption of a child becomes final once a civil court issues an adoption order. The district magistrate issues the adoption orders.
Who can be adopted?
- Children who are in conflict with the law and who needs care and protection
- Children up to the age of 18 years can be adopted.
- A couple, a single parent, or an unmarried person can adopt an orphan
- Any known children from India can also be adopted by In-country parents (Section 56(2)) and by Inter-country parents. (Section 60).
- Procedure for Declaring a Child Legally Free for Adoption (Section 38)
The Child Welfare Committee in every district has some procedures for legally adopting a child mentioned under Section 38
- Only after the child has been established that their parents are unknown, the child is free for adoption. The child welfare committee has to put full effort into searching the parents or guardians of the child in the first place.
- After producing the child, a declaration should be made within two months in case he/she is up to two years of age, otherwise within four months.
- Parents or guardians will be given two months after surrendering the child to reconsider their decision. After the lapse of that certain period, adoption steps can be taken.
- After this procedure, the child becomes an Orphan and now he/she is legally free for adoption
Eligibility of prospective adoptive parents
Section 57 of the JJ Act is a significant section that determines the eligibility of prospective parents. The prospective adoptive parents shall be fit both physically and mentally. They must fulfil the criteria by proving that the parents are financially sound to maintain a child and to save for his future. The parents must be aimed at giving utmost care for the adopted children as they are already brought from a vulnerable space. Therefore the parents should take extra care and should be mentally in a good state, to adopt a child for providing a good upbringing for them. If they are married and want to adopt a child as a couple, then the consent of both the spouses for the adoption shall be required.
The age of prospective adoptive parents shall be considered for deciding their eligibility and capability to raise a child. Those age criteria may not be considered in the case of relative adoptions and in the case where the adoption is carried by the step-parent. A child cannot be given in for adoption if the couple cannot establish at least two years of stable marital life. The age difference between the child is also important where either of the prospective parents shall not be less than twenty-five years.
A single person, an unmarried person or a divorced person can also adopt, subject to fulfilment of all the required criteria and in accordance with the provisions of adoption framed by the Authority. Any other criteria according to the circumstances of the case may be specified in the adoption regulations by the Authority. Couples with three or more children shall not be encouraged for further adoption except in some cases. In cases of special need for children and cases of relative adoption and adoption by step-parent, this may be allowed.
ADOPTION SYSTEM UNDER THE ACT
The Hindu maintenance act recognized adoption and all other faiths did not have legal backing under their law. Under Article 21, every individual has the right to adopt a child becoming a parent which confers the legal status of a biological parent. This act made it possible to adopt children if certain required criteria have been carried away properly. In 2015, under this act, the Union Ministry of Women and Child Development tried speeding up this process to make the process transparent and easy by transferring the entire adoption procedure online. It was continuously monitored by the Central Adoption Resource Authority.
The adoptive parents will be recognized under the process and they shall no longer wait with a single option while there are multiple individual adoption agencies available to adopt a child. They introduced a separate category for immediate placement of children, allowing parents to bypass a long waiting list. The “hard to place” category of children refers to children who did not find any parents through any of the agency or guidance systems. Those sectors of children were also placed through this method resulting in an increase in adoption in India.
As per the guidelines of the 2015 act, the child’s paramount interest will be given importance. Therefore the child will be preferably given to families in India considering their socio-cultural environment for comfortable living. Therefore the adoption is done to ensure the welfare of the child, and due consideration is given to the wishes of the child. The Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) has taken steps to increase the rate of adoption in India but with the change in the mindset of people, there can be a drastic increase in Adoption rates. With this, we are marching towards a casteless and secular country without any differences among the people.
Therefore it can be rightly said that the enactment of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000 and its amendment in 2006 is a major step of the legislature towards recognition of the adoption of orphan, abandoned and surrendered children by people without any division based on religion. All the factors under the Act apply to all religions. Our nation’s children are considered supreme and so the government appoints authorities and makes gigantic efforts to find the right home for the abandoned children.