Child Adoption Laws in India

Child Adoption Laws in India

Adoption under the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956 is defined as, “the admission of a stranger by birth to the privileges of a child by a legally recognised form of affiliation.”

A person can adopt a child in India under three Acts:

  • The Hindu Adoption and  Maintenance Act,1956
  • The Guardians and Wards Act, 1890
  • The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act, 2000

The idea of Adoption in these three legislations can be seen as follows:

  • Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956
  • The Act applies to whole of India except the State of Jammu and Kashmir. Under this Act no adoption shall be valid unless:

    • Both The child and people taking the child for adoption must be Hindus.
    • The person taking a child for adoption has the capacity and also the right to take in adoption.
    • The person giving a child for adoption has the capacity to do so.
    • The person given in adoption is capable of being adopted.
    • The adoption is done keeping in view the essential mentioned under this chapter.

     The relevant features of this Act are:

    • A married couple can adopt a child.
    • Both single men and women can adopt a child
    • An adopted child has same rights as a biological child
    • A married man with consent of wife can adopt a child
    • In case of a child adopting a girl there must be an age difference of 21 years between them.
    • In case of a single woman adopting a boy there has to be difference of 21 years in their age
    • A child given for adoption must be above the age of 15 years.
    • If a biological child exists then the couple can adopt a child of opposite sex only.
    • The adoption done under this Act is irrevocable.
  • The Guardians and Wards Act, 1890
  • Before the enactment of the Juvenile Justice Act this was the sole Act governing and regulating the adoption of chid by non-Hindus.  This is more of a secular Act giving an opportunity to non-Hindus to adopt a child.
    The salient features of this Act are:

    • The ward is not above the age of 18 years.
    •  There should be Will in order to bequeath any property to the ward
    • The court as well as the guardians have the right to revoke the guardianship, if they feel so.
    • The Will can be contested by the ‘blood relatives’.
    • Bothe spouses can legally be guardians.
    • The single people can also adopt without any age difference.


    • The Juvenile Justice ( Care and Protection) Act, 2000
    • The Act mainly focused on providing care and rehabilitation to the child in conflict. The Act realises the need of delinking the religion of the Parent(s) from adoption.
      The Amendment Act of 2006 has since expanded the provisions. The main strengths of this Act are:

      • Any Indian citizen can adopt a child who is legally free for adoption
      • The adoptee gets the same rights that a biological child might
      • The religion of the adoptive parent(s) is not relevant
      • Single people can adopt
      • The adoption is irrevocable
      • Some time limits have been set to ensure that children are considered legally free for adoption earlier
      • The thrust is on the best interest of the child


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