If you are an Indian parent and have been thinking about adopting a child from India; this post will give you an insight on how to get started and what you need to prepare for till you bring your child back home.
This post is written based on my experience with CARA during the year 2017-2018.
It also carries a red asterisk (*) for few points and indicates
* Subject to change based on any new policies and change in government.
Research about CARA (Child Adoption Resource Authority). It functions as the main entity for adopting Indian children. CARA provides with all the required information. This is the website you need http://cara.nic.in
Indian adoption is centralized and is completely online.
First, please check your eligibility to adopt an Indian child * http://cara.nic.in/Parents/eg_ri.html
For the online application, one needs to login to the CARA website
Click on 'Parents', and then make the appropriate selections here on to reach the online form.
Submit an online application form along with the list of documents mentioned in the CARA website. * http://cara.nic.in/Parents/document_RI.html
After the online application is sent across, you will receive status as PAP's (Prospective Adoptive Parents).
Along with this, you will also receive a PAP registration id and password to log in to the website henceforth. (you will receive this in your inbox).
You can check your online status using this credential.
The e-mail will also mention about the SAA (Specialised Adoption Agency).
You need to contact them for further information. They will guide you with further procedures and will also conduct the home study.
The SAA is located close to your place.
Contact the SAA (Specialised Adoption Agency) and ask for an appointment.
During the meeting with SAA representative, you will be guided on further procedures.
Shortly thereafter, a home study will be conducted. This is always done with prior intimation and agreement. During the home study, they would meet your folks residing with you and also check out your place and locality to ensure that the adopted child is passed onto caring and trusted hands.
If your Home Study Report (HSR) is approved, you will know about it through an e-mail.
Now, all you have to do next is wait it out till a child is made available for you.
This could be a good time to inform your close family or folks who resonate with the thought of adoption.
Inform your boss at work about your decision. It will create an awareness in case you suddenly have to leave in between your work hours for a meeting with the SAA.
How you disclose and when you disclose is entirely up to you. However, be confident about your decision and don't let anyone talk you out of it.
Remember, the waiting period could vary for various reasons, so take heart and be patient.
In the meantime, be prepared to face questions from those who know about your adoptive decision.
If there are any concerns or queries during this waiting period, you can still approach the SAA with a prior appointment. They are available to guide you.
Few things to remember
Adoption is your decision as a couple. So be united on this front.
If you are a parent, it's good to involve your child/children right from the birth of the adoption idea.
It's better to work together as a couple, bit by bit on your online application each day. Don't rush this part.
In the online application, you will be asked about your preference for the child. Be absolutely sure of what you opt for. It's not like ordering something off an e-commerce website. It's a child you are welcoming home forever.
After your online application and home study are done, you will have some amount of time in hand to prepare for the arrival of your child. Invest in this time wisely.
It is also recommended to print out the filled in the online application form.
Things to do while waiting
You should refer to your new child with a name. If you haven't settled on a final name, think of a pet name you would use e.g. Sweety, pumpkin, cupcake, etc (oh! there are so many lovely names)
Do things for your new child in advance. Believe me, he/she will appreciate the thought and memories you've built even when he/she was not physically present with the family.
Do it together as a family. Build unity and excitement in the family. There are so many ways you can create memories for your new child.
Frequently write a note to your child. You can keep a journal or just use plain e-mails (addressed to yourself). This could have a short line of what you think about him or her on that day.
Create a video. (With your family or it could just be you.)
If you are a parent already, encourage your child/children to prepare welcome banners, special artwork, poems, stories or lovely things for the new sibling coming along.
Prepare a list of things your child would need on a daily basis. You may or may not have given an age preference. So, you can start making a list that includes a new set of clothes, a separate cot, infant/baby food, footwear, school admission in case you are adopting an older child etc.
If you have opted for a special child, you will need to be prepared and trained to take care of the child at a different level. Look for counselling sessions that can prepare you in advance and also provide adequate support for bringing up the child.
You can regularly check your PAP status number. Initially, you can check once or twice a week. Pick out a day and make it special. Make a note on how the numbers go. You will find that some days the numbers don't move at all, while on other days either it leaps forward or trails a bit. Don't panic. Your child is one in a billion and whom God has planned will definitely visit you at the right time.
Keep yourselves informed about adoption policies.
Check for adoption policies offered at your workplace. Some organizations offer 3 months of adoption/maternity leaves. Some even allow paternity leaves.
Keep your boss informed about your sudden paternity leave in case you sense it could be during one of the major project/product releases.
Talk to your children about adoption and keep them up to date on what's happening.
Watch movies and read books themed around 'adoption'. This helps children at home gain a sense of understanding about adoption and helps them be more sensitive about the sibling who is yet to come home.
Talk and meet with families who have adopted children. There are so many insights that they can share. Their experiences, pitfalls, bloopers and highlights.
Read books on people who have shared their adoption story. It's relieving to know that they too like us are normal people who lead a normal life. And like any parenting story, yours is going to be unique too.
The moment you notice, that your PAP status number is much closer to finishing line you can be assured to hear soon from CARA.
You may receive an SMS on the registered mobile phone number from CARA. It will clearly indicate that there is a child available and needs to be reserved within the next 20 days. *
The SMS will not reveal any details about the available child.
You need to visit the website and view the details of the child made available.
After you reserve the child, you will be given 2- or 3-weeks' time before you can visit the child and make your final decision.
This 2-3 weeks' time is crucial to get final things in place.
For some reason, if you choose not to go ahead with the available child, you will need to wait for a few more months before another child is made available for you. *
Preparing for the visit
The time period between 'reserving the child' and 'meeting the child' is critical.
Get all legal and supporting documents in place. It's better to create a separate document folder for your child right from the start.
Go through the medical records of the child. Usually, they are uploaded on the website for you to view and print. But in case you don't see the mandatory medical reports, (like we experienced during our adoption journey) please request for those. You can write/contact the 'centre in charge' of the orphanage for those.
The medical records should also indicate the vaccinations given to the child.
You can find the list of mandatory medical examination here * http://cara.nic.in/PDF/Circular/MER%20Circular.pdf
Travel and Stay
Check with the orphanage on how long the entire process will take. Usually, it's a single day's work. But in some cases, it could take more than a day based on court session dates.
Make travel & stay arrangements as per this.
Intimate the orphanage about your arrival date.
Intimate folks at work too about your leave dates.
Check the weather of the place you visit and pack clothing accordingly.
Your child's photos and videos:
You can ask the orphanage to share photos or videos belonging to your child.
It helps in connecting with your child and they can also be a great keepsake.
Visit a local paediatrician with your 'soon-to-be adopted' child's medical records.
Check with them if they observe any concern.
Seek advice on how to handle certain medical conditions if any are found.
Also, check with them on the usual travel medications that you need to carry with you. e.g. For an upset stomach, vomiting, fever, or pain in the middle ear due to air pressure in the flight (i.e. if you are travelling by air to bring the child back home)
As soon as you reserve your child, inform the folks at your workplace about your upcoming leave.
Apply for leave as soon as travel is confirmed.
Delegate roles and responsibilities for during your absence.
Get all finances in place for travel, payment to CARA, court visit and the orphanage. *
Make arrangements for a support system e.g. House help, babysitter etc. At times the journey to and back is tiring and can be difficult on the child and yourself.
Seek out for help in house chores, get a few meals delivered to you, someone to assist in taking care of the child etc.
For your child:
Buy a gift for your child. This is the first time you will be meeting him/her. Make it absolutely special.
Carry clothes, footwear and absolutely anything that your child will require for the stay with you and travel back home. (Usually, children in the orphanage don't have much of personal possession and pls don't expect any)
Based on the weather of the place you are visiting, go prepared with the essential set of clothes and other daily needs.
Be a blessing:
If you have in your heart to bless the people & children residing at the orphanage, carry some sweets along or whatever you prefer. It's not every day that these children get to see a visitor.
Money may not be appreciated and can at times swing the wrong way.
During the visit:
Be on time for all appointments.
You will notice quite a few children or maybe many in the orphanage. You could get emotional. Instead, try to be friendly, play and talk to them. They would love the time you spend with them.
Take pictures. Plenty of them.
Your child will be handed over to you officially only after the entire adoption process is complete. The process also includes an interview with the CPW team (Child Protection and Welfare). However, till the process completes you can still meet and spend time with your child.
Ask if there are additional medical reports about your child (those which were not uploaded on the website)
Ask about your child's food preferences, daily schedules and activities during the orphanage stay. This will help you gauge changes that you will need to bring in and for a smooth transition.
You could be tempted to know about your adopted child's background or former family. The orphanage authorities may provide you with details only if they have it. However, I would suggest to ward off this question. The less that is known about your child's background is best. What matters most is to focus ahead than be judgemental on the people who did wrong.
You are now 'Foster Parents' not 'Official' parents yet.
After your visit:
Get a medical examination done for your child from a local paediatric. Check for vaccines that are due.
Inform the SAA (Specialised Adoption Agency) about your travel back with the child.
You will need to make a court appearance within a period of 2 or 3 months. You, your spouse and your children need to travel with you.
Inform your folks at work regarding your leave for the court visit.
Call up the orphanage and ask them for details
Court appearance date and time, Court location and address
Fee payment etc
Based on the information you receive from the orphanage, make travel and stay arrangements. This time you will know what to carry along.
If things go well (and they usually do) it will complete your fostering tenure.
In a month's time, you will receive the birth certificate of your adopted munchkin with your names against the 'Parents' name. Celebrate this!
Over the next two years, four child study report will be conducted. Two studies conducted each year.
The SAA representative or a social worker will visit you every 6 months to check on how the child is adjusting in the new family.
Happy Parenting. It's worth it!
I have listed below absolutely worthwhile reading and viewing resources. Don't miss those.
Suggested readings & viewing
‘He knows her name’ by Kelly MCCORKLE’.
You will find these encouraging devos at YouVersion (links embedded)
Annie (1982). The classic movie
* Subject to change based on any new policies and change in government.