In all major decisions there is a time for contemplation and a time for action. Last month’s issue took an overall contemplative look at adoption and its pros and cons. In this issue however, its time for action as we look at the procedures, documentation and agencies of adoption.
The first step towards adopting your baby is to find a registered and reliable child care and adoption center. A registered center is one that has been licensed by the state government and is also recognized by the Ministry of Welfare. These childcare centers are non profit voluntary organizations involved in various aspects of child welfare such as adoption, sponsorship, crèches for low income groups, programmes for street children etc. They have professionally trained and experienced staff; medical support and most importantly, they are the only agencies that can ensure that your child is legally adopted and therefore absolutely yours. It is the agency’s job to ensure that the legal proceedings are complete before the child is handed over to you and that there is no fear of your parenting rights being ever challenged by the biological parents – and you do not have to be personally involved in this as the lawyer associated with the agency will take care of all this.
In each state there are numerous recognized agencies. (If you are unable to locate any, please write in to us.) When you visit the agency of your choice, you will be asked to register your request. Normally there is a nominal fee charged at this point. Registration however does not automatically qualify you for adoption. The first priority of the agency will be to protect the welfare of the child and so placements are never done lightly and without adequate investigation. Today, almost all states require you to get counseling as a precondition for adoption. Thus, after the registration, the social worker or a counselor associated with the agency will conduct interviews with you and your spouse, together and individually.
The objective is to help you clarify your doubts and apprehensions and to help you understand your own motivation and expectations. This is a crucial time, as it will give both of you time to understand the implications and prepare yourself for the momentous moment when you walk away with a child in your arms. So don’t think of it as a waste of time or red tapism – remember it’s your child’s welfare they are guarding!
While you undergo counseling, you can also take the time to put your documentation in order. The main documents needed are ( one original set and three photocopies) :-
- Your birth certificates
- Your marriage certificate
- Certificate of good health from a registered medical practitioner
- Infertility report (only if applicable)
- Recent post card size photos of you and your spouse together- 4 in number.
- Employment, income and property certificates. These include last income tax certificate filed, property certificate in case applicable, salary statement if employed and a declaration of income.
- Letters of recommendation from family and friends.
Not all the documents may be required in your state but essentially this is a basic list for adoption.
The next stage is preparation of the Home Study report. The social worker will visit your home and chat with any family member staying with you. The purpose behind the Home Study report is to understand your home environment and what type of temperament will best suit it. It is also an opportunity for the agency to discover the attitudes of the family members staying with you, as they too will play a very great role in your child’s life.
There is another document connected with adoption but this one is prepared by the agency and is meant for you. While you must accept that the origins of your child may forever remain shrouded in mystery, the agency keeps detailed records of the time spent there. This is called the Child Study report. It includes the child’s medical records as well. The children are routinely screened for urinary tract infection, malaria, TB, VDRL, AIDS and Hepatitis among other tests. Their growth and weight gain is also monitored regularly. All the children are immunized according to their ages and this record will also be in the study
At last! The formalities are nearly over and its time to meet your future face to face. As in any biological birth, you don’t get to choose your offspring. The agency may show you one or two babies but no more, as babies are sensitive to rejection and may be scarred for life from yours. Rest assured, the agency will do its best to match you with a child similar to you in colour and temperament. As far as the sex of the child is concerned, you can make it clear initially whether you are looking for a boy or a girl, but in general the waiting period for a male child is much longer. In an agency there are children of different age groups from infants to pre teens. The age of your child will depend upon the preferences expressed by you, the availability of a child of that age and also on your own age. There is little benefit in giving an older parent an infant as not only can this strain the lowered tolerance levels, a too wide age gap may not be in the long term interests of either the child or the parent.
All parents would like a healthy smiling baby. Unfortunately the majority of the children in the agency are not as bonny simply because the best of institutional care cannot replace the individual love and attention of the parents. Experience has shown however, that within weeks of finding their families, all the children begin to bloom and are soon unrecognizable. It is your love and the emotional security that you provide that is the best tonic for your baby.
The end (for now)
Once your child has chosen you, little remains to be done. The agency will expect you to bring in your own paediatrician to examine the child and corroborate the opinions of the agency’s doctor. And then there remains only the question of the fees. Adoption fees are subsidized and regulated by the Supreme Court. However they are intended to cover the costs of basic childcare and maintainance, as well as legal and medical costs. Bringing up children is an expensive business, and even more so when the child in question has been under nourished or sick initially. The daily diet of such children includes not only expensive baby food but also medicines. You must also remember that these agencies are non profit agencies and have therefore to find some means of covering the cost of trained professional staff and childcare attendants. In states such as Delhi, the fees is approximately Rs. 12,000/- but each state will have its own fee structure depending upon the costs involved.
Be prepared for a little expenditure – it’s a small price to pay for the miracle of parenthood!
Next issue we’ll be focusing on how to ease the child’s transition into your household ……when and how to tell your child that she is adopted, as well as discussing the legal aspects of adoption in India.
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