Adoption in India

IndiaTaj Mahal

India, it is often said, is not a country but a continent. There are few nations on earth with the enormous variety that India has to offer. The streets are a cacophony of colour and sounds, packed with pedestrians, chaotic traffic, sacred cows and the occasional camel. "India is not a place you simply and clinically 'see'; it's a total experience, an assault on the senses, a place you'll never forget" (Lonely Planet)

Yet in the midst of the wonders of India, many children experience great need.

Who can be adopted?        

india baby on streeetNew Zealanders can adopt children who don't have a family to care for them, are living in an authorised orphanage, and are approved for international adoption by the Indian authorities.  Most of the children in the orphanages have been relinquished by unwed mothers or by families too poor to care for them. For cultural reasons, most are girls.  As in most developing countries, some families in India struggle with providing basic needs for their children. Poverty, difficult social circumstances and lack of opportunity conspire against families, resulting in great need for some children. The orphanages provide the children with access to resources, schooling and good medical services.

We can help both Indian and non-Indian couples or single women. It's sometimes possible to adopt sibling groups aged between 2 and 14 years consisting of 2 or 3 children from one family.      

Who can adopt? Requirements -
  • Approved by the New Zealand Central Authority (NZCA) after assessment by AFS or MfVC;  
  • Couples who are married with at least 2 years stable marriage relationship;
  • Singles who are not in a relationship (including those never married, those who are widowed, or divorced). India will not allow the adoption of a child by a gay or lesbian person;                
  • Physically, mentally and emotionally stable; and no life threatening medical condition;      
  • Financially capable;     
  • Priority applicants - those of Indian heritage with Indian passports (NRIs) or OCI cards have priority. These are the first to be offered infants (0-2) toddlers (2-3) or preschoolers (3-5 years).Non-Indian applicants are encouraged to apply to parent older children (over 5 years) or children of any age with moderate medical needs. Note "Indian" means holders of Indian passports or OCI cards.
  • Family size - Those who already have 3 children may apply for waiting children (ie over 5 or with medical needs).
  • Age requirements - see table below

Age of the child

Maximum composite age of prospective adoptive parents (but also note OCI/NRI status)

Maximum age of single prospective adoptive parent (but also note OCI/NRI status)

 Up to 4 years

90 years

45 years

 Above 4 up to 8 years

100 years

50  years

 Above 8 up to18 years

110 years

55 years;

 india girl 3Who's involved in the process?

The local organisations that are authorised to care for abandoned children and work in adoption are called SAAs - Specialised Adoption Agencies.

Foreign agencies such as ICANZ that are authorised to to represent those who want to adopt in India are known as an Authorised Foreign Adoption Agency (AFAA). The role of AFAAs such as ICANZ is described on the Indian Central Authority website. 

Adoptions between New Zealand and India are conducted according to the Hague Convention.  The Indian Government Central Authority responsible for adoption is CARA (Central Adoption Resource Agency). CARA must approve each adoption.  At the New Zealand end, our Central Authority for Adoption (NZCA) also  first approves you as an adoptive parent after AFS or MfVC have assessed you.  The NZCA also approves the Child Study Report ICANZ sends to them for the child matched to you. 

How do I adopt?
  • Pre-register with ICANZ on-line. If you are committed to adoption in India with ICANZ, pre-registration enables us to have our staff send you detailed information, give you access to our Members only page on this website, and keep you informed of any changes for Indian adoption. We'll put you in touch with others who've adopted via ICANZ in India and our staff will answer questions for you. Pre-registration is optional.
  • Choose either AFS or MfVC to provide education/assessment/homestudy services. 
  • Undergo an assessment to gain approval from the NZCA to adopt from India. ICANZ is an adoption placement agency, that represents you in India, to arrange for a child to be placed with you; we do not approve you as an adoptive parent - AFS or MfVC assess you, present the Home Study Report to the NZCA for their approval, then ICANZ works with you to arrange the overseas adoption.
  • Register fully with ICANZ for the ICANZ adoption programme with India once you are approved by AFS or MfVC. We'll prepare your application and liaise with CARA on your behalf to adopt a child
  • We'll inform you about the child matched to you and apply for approval from the NZCA
  • We'll liaise with the SAA to process your application through the Indian court. This usually involves a trip to meet the child and may require an another trip for court. Your adoption will be finalised under the Indian Juvenile Justice Amendment Act (2006) in a Civil Court in India.
  • Travel to India, for about 14-21 days to collect your child. On arriving in India, you'll collect your child and complete exit formalities. We'll have guided you through this process before you go to India.
  • After you arrive back in NZ with your child, a social worker from ICANZ will come to your home to write post placement reports for 2 years. We'll send these back to the child's former caregivers, CARA and the court.
How long will it take?     

Timing is highly variable. Some ICANZ applicants have been matched at 3 -12+ months after applying. This partly depends on how open you are to different ages, medical needs etc

Indian adoption processes have changed significantly over the past ten years. ICANZ staff have travelled to India to be able to provide you with the current accurate "on the ground" information. Further information is available on the ICANZ Members only page, a page that is updated and provides the latest information on Indian Adoption for those committed to adopting in India with ICANZ.

What legislation will my adoption be done under?

The Civil Court in India will make a Court Order under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act 2000. This act defines adoption as "the process through which the adopted child is permanently separated from his biological parents and become the legitimate child of his adoptive parents with all the rights, privileges and responsibilities that are attached to the relationship".

What costs are involved?  

You'll need to pay for all costs associated with ICANZ work for you in NZ, the SAA charges in India, travel accommodation and personal costs. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for details. Also see FAQs on why there are costs involved in adoption.

Read An Indian View of Searching for Birth Parents