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Thursday, June 07, 2007

Adoption Q & A # 4

My husband is an Indian citizen, I am a US citizen with PIO (person of Indian origin) card. We have been told we can adopt as an Indian family, because of the husband's citizenship & the fact that we reside in India. We have three biological daughters. We are fertile, but choosing to adopt. We're a Christian family. Can we adopt a girl or are we limited to boys? Can we adopt a child from another state or only one from our state of residence?"

First of all, my hats off to you for your sincerity to adopt. Yes as one of you (your husband in this case) is an Indian citizen, you're allowed to adopt.

For a long time, India didn't have specific adoption laws but they were governed by personal laws. As you have mentioned your religion, I want to help you understand few of these laws that are still in use.

First one is Hindu Adoption & Maintenance Act (HAMA). Under this law, you can only adopt two children maximum (of opposite gender). HAMA extends parental rights on the children. HAMA is applicable to Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains.

Second one is Guardianship & Wards Act (GAWA). Under this law, you can adopt as many children as you want but you will only have guardianship on the children and the state continues to be sole custodian of the child. GAWA applies to Christians, Muslims, Jews and Parsis.

Third, a new law (amended by the Indian Parliament in 2006) called Jevenile & Justice Act (JJ Act). This allows person of India of any religion to adopt any number of children. Personally I suggest that you adopt your child under JJ Act because it allows you to adopt a child of your choice (girl or boy, healthy or special needs) and also enables you the parental rights.

CARA guidelines clearly state that inter-state adoptions are allowed. Normally agencies are reluctant to work with people of other states because of additional costs that they have to incur to send a social worker to do the pre/post adoption follow up work. Agencies also insist that you register with Voluntary Coordinating Agency (VCA) and do your home study in the state of your residence first. I suggest that you work with the agency in a state of your choice but assure them of your financial assistance for the additional expenses and I am sure they would be happy to work with you.

Since you said that you're an American citizen, I am very sure that your adoptive child in a foreign land is also entitled to American citizenship.

I hope this is helpful.

RN

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