India Adoption Program

Indian Flag Over Map of India

India is a wonderful program for families interested in children that are a little older, or have some minor medical needs.

The Indian adoption program is a fairly stable program, and well managed by the Central Authority for Adoption in India. It has a long history of placing children with loving families, and regularly updates the rules and procedures to improve the program. Every effort is made to place children with parents of Indian heritage in India first, followed by parents of Indian heritage abroad. If these are unavailable, then children can be placed with foreign parents.

Adoption in India is governed by the Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA), which works closely with local Indian state governments. The state governments regulate and monitor the orphanages approved for international adoption and adoption service providers licensed in their region.

India is a party to the Hague Convention, so adoptive parents must first be found eligible to be an adoptive parent by the US Government by filing the I-800A form with USCIS.

Please see information below concerning relative/kinship adoptions from India.

Children in Need

Children become available for adoption in India for many reasons. Sometimes it is due to extreme economic hardship on the part of the birth parents, the social stigma of being a single parent in India, the special need of the child, and many more. Children are from a wide range of India’s diverse cultural and religious backgrounds.


Children in need of families range from 1-15 years old.


While gender preference can be indicated by Adoptive Parents, parents are strongly encouraged to be open to a child of either gender.


Over the past year, most of the children adopted from India had special needs. With the new adoption regulations in place, many more healthy children should be placed for adoption. Families will be placed one general waiting list for every family interested in adopting from India. CARA will issue healthy referrals to the next family in line, while always giving preference for the child to go with an Indian family. The child may still have minor medical and developmental delays due to institutionalized living.

Another option for adoptive families is to adopt a child with special needs. Special needs vary from minor to severe and a wide variety of needs are seen on the Waiting Kids page . Medical intervention is very common for children once placed in the orphanage’s care. Adopting a child with special needs can drastically shorten the adoptive family’s wait time.

Adoptive Parent Requirements


There is no residency requirement in India. Parents are expected to spend approximately one to two weeks with their child in country before returning to the US. Some regions of India require families to travel twice, once for court and once for Embassy. Other regions only require families be present for the Embassy appointment.

Marital Status

Both single parents and married couples may adopt. A married couple must be married for a minimum of two years to be found eligible to adopt.

Potential Adoptive Parent Age

India does choose to limit the age diferences for parents adopting children in different age groups. They consider the age of the parents combined, or a single parent. You can figure out if you qualify for your desired age range, but adding the ages of both parents. If it is over the maximum composite, then you will need to move up an age bracket.

Age of the child Maximum composite age of prospective adoptive parents (couple) Maximum age of single prospective adoptive parent
Up to 2 years 85 years 40 years
Above 2 and up to 4 years 90 years 45 years
Above 4 and up to 8 years 100 years 50 years
Above 8 and up to 18 years 110 years 55 years

The composite age of the PAPs is determined on the date of registration. The minimum age difference between the child and either of the prospective adoptive parents should not be less than 25 years.


Adoptive parents shall be physically, mentally, emotionally and financially capable, they shall not have any life threatening medical condition


Families must meet income requirements as outlined by USCIS. The homestudy of the family must demonstrate the financial stability of the family.


Families with 1 child are allowed to adopt healthy children via the waitlist (wait times can be 3.5-4+ years). Families with 2 or more children will be required to adopt from the special needs category. Adult children or children living outside of the home are included in your total for consideration.

Adoptive parents should not have been convicted in criminal act of any nature or accused in any case of child rights violation.

Key Organizations

Central Adoption Resource Agency (CARA): CARA is India’s adoption authority. CARA serves as a clearing house for information regarding abandoned/rilinquished/orphaned children available for international adoption. CARA issues No-Objection Certificates for all intercountry adoptions.

Adoption Service Provider (ASP): All prospective adoptive parents (PAP’s must use a U.S. Based, Hague Accredited ASP).

Recognized Indian Placement Agency (RIPA), Specialized Adoption Agencies (SAA), State-Wise Recognized Indian Placement Agencies (SARA): All U.S. ASPs will work with a RIPA/SAA/SARA. They can also function as an orphanage. The Indian placement agency files the paperwork with the court. RIPA/SAA/SARA is responsible for the supervising care of the child, providing all necessary documentation on child, provided the child has been declared free for international adoption, and facilitating court procedures.

children standing in front of flagsThe Process

Because India is Hague Compliant, the following six steps must be followed IN ORDER to ensure all legal requirements are met.

1. Choose an Accredited Adoption Service Provider (ASP). Only Hague accredited agencies are permitted to provide adoption services in India. Under Indian law, foreign prospective adoptive parents are required to use an agency that is approved by CARA.

2. Apply to be found eligible to adopt. This is accomplished by submitting a state approved, adoptive parent homestudy and accompanying documents to USCIS with the I-800A form. (Requirements for an India specific homestudy are included in the inter-agency agreement).

a. Once the adoptive parent has been approved to adopt by USCIS, the I-800A approval will be submitted with the dossier to CARA.

b. CARA will then determine the adoptive parent’s eligibility to adopt under Indian law. It is important to note that being determined eligible to adopt by CARA does not guarantee placement of a child.

c. The family will register into CARA’s system and be placed on the waiting list. For now, India will not be providing families with their list number

3. Be matched with a child.

a. To adopt a healthy child, the family will wait on India’s waiting list until they get to the top of the list. CARA hopes to provide two referrals, based on adoptive parents child preferences, to the adoptive family. The family will have 96 hours to review the information and decide to move forward with a child’s adoption. If the family rejects the two referrals, they will go to the bottom of the waiting list and start the waiting process again. To adopt a child from the Waiting Kid’s Site, the matching will be done in the IAN office and approved by CARA.

4. Apply for the child to be found eligible for adoption.

a. When the Adoptive Parent accepts the referral for a child, the family will apply to USCIS to adopt that particular child.

b. The orphanage provides adoptive family with child’s file (Article 16)

c. If the USCIS determines the child meets the criteria to be placed for international adoption and is eligible to immigrate to the US, they will issue what is called the Article 5 letter.

5. Adopt the child.

a. Adoptive family will send orphanage and CARA the Article 5 letter showing USCIS approval of the adoption.

b. CARA will issue a No Objection Certificate and send it to the SAA.

d. SAA will obtain the adoption order from the Indian authority (District Magistrate) with all required documents and will approve the placement of the child with the PAP.

e. The SAA will send the copy of the adoption order to all parties involved.

f. CARA issues and sends the Article 23 letter (Receipt for the US Embassy that CARA received the adoption order).

6. Bringing your child home: Once step #5 is complete, the child legally belongs to you. Adoptions are full and final in India. The following steps will take place before you travel back to the US with the child.

a. Obtain a birth certificate from SAA.

b. Obtain an Indian Passport. Your child will not be a US Citizen until he or she arrives in the US.

c. Attend an Embassy Medical appointment

d. Interview to receive a US Visa.

Time Frame

3-4 months: Application and Dossier Preparation

3.5-4+ years (After receiving approval from CARA): Matched with a child. (wait time will be significantly shorter for PAPs adopting a child with special needs)

6-12 months: From the time the referral has been accepted to the time the Indian authority finalizes the adoption.

Wait times can be greatly reduced in the case of older and/or special needs children.

1. Can I adopt more than one child at a time?

Parents can adopt only related children/siblings, however it is very uncommon to adopt siblings from India. Unrelated children cannot be adopted together. Parents can complete one adoption from India, and after one positive 3-month post placement visit, they can petition for a second adoption.

2. Do I need a visa to travel to India?

Yes. This must be done before you depart for your trip or upon arrival. Obtaining a visa upon arrival in new in India, and families are only allowed to receive 2 per year.

3. What languages do the children speak?

Hindi is the official language of India, but many regions have a particular dialect they speak. Also, many SAAs also speak English.

4. What information will I receive when I receive my referral?

This will vary by region, but at minimum, you should receive a picture, the Child Study Report, and a Medical Examination Report.

5. Can I use any US based adoption agency.

No. First, the agency you choose needs to be Hague-accredited. Second, the Agency must have licensing with CARA.

6. Do Indian Citizens living in the US or Individuals of Indian decent receive priority?

While all adoption agencies must follow the same procedures outlined here by the Hague-agreement, India does prefer to place Indian children with families of Indian descent. Please contact IAN for more information.

7. Where can I find more information about the adoption regulations in India?

You can always review the full and updated guidelines CARA’s website which can be found here.

Relative Adoption

**IAN is not currently accepting applications for relative adoption cases**

International Adoption Net has knowledge and experience specific to the India Relative Adoption Process.

The Juvenile Justice Act 2015, defines the term relative as “a paternal uncle or aunt, or a maternal uncle or aunt, or paternal grandparent or maternal grandparent”. The age criteria for prospective adoptive parents has been waived for adoption of a relative. USCIS requires the I800A to be filed before the child’s 16 th birthday.

India’s Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) implemented new guidelines on January 16, 2017 which are streamlining the relative adoption process. Families are registered on the CARINGS system so that CARA and the District Child Protection Unit (DCPU) can view the family’s documents and upload approval. The guidelines also include a list of documents required for court as well a sample of the court petition. Families file the court petition in the local court where the child is residing.

Because every relative adoption case is unique IAN adoption coordinators work closely with families, attorneys and CARA staff to ensure that all documents are in order for the U.S. government and the Indian court to approve.  If you are interested in adopting a relative from India, please contact IAN at 303-691-0808 or info@internationaladoptionnet .org 

If you have other questions about this program, please contact IAN, click here .

**Due to changes in adoption regulations, this information is subject to change at any time without prior notice.