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Keeping Your Child’s Culture Alive After Adoption

Debunking Five Myths of India Adoption

Adoption Advocacy India

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  Written by Jane Lee, India Program Manager on 12 Jan 2016

There are many children in India unable to be parented by their birth families, and waiting in orphanages for adoptive families. Prospective adoptive parents sometimes shy away from looking into India adoption based on misunderstandings and outdated or false information about the process and country.   Recent changes in India’s adoption guidelines and an increased access to information have resulted in appropriate matching of children and families and movement through the process in a timely manner. Please take a moment to review the myths and truths below, and then carefully consider growing your family through Indian adoption.

Myth 1: India adoption is only open to people of Indian heritage.

Both Indian and non-Indian families can adopt from India. All families are asked to be open to minor/correctable to more moderate physical needs in a child. Families with this openness are matched fairly quickly by your U.S. agency's India Program (for Children's Home, the time frame is 0-6 months) via an online portal with profiles of children waiting throughout India. Indian families are allowed to be part of, what CARA (India's Central Adoption Resource Authority) calls the Healthy Child Track and the family waits for a match done directly by CARA. Recently, this Healthy Child Track has been slow and does not always result in the referral of a child per the family's parameters. For this reason, many Indian families choose to be open to minor/correctable needs and work directly with the U.S. agency (as do non-Indian families) to identify a child who is already waiting and with whom the family can be matched immediately based on their openness to region, age, and need.

Myth 2: Only older children with significant, lifelong medical needs are available for adoption.

Among the 200-300 children that we can view on the CARA online portal daily, ages of the children range from under 1 year old to 10 years old; the average is 1-4 years of age. The age of the adoptive parents determines the age range of the children whom the family would be eligible to adopt. The needs of children range from minor or correctable (such as cleft lip/palate, small stature, asthma, correctable heart conditions, limb differences, low birth weight, and mild developmental delays) to more significant or lifelong needs (such as vision and hearing impairments, HIV, complex heart conditions, cerebral palsy, ambiguous genitalia, impaired mobility, and children who are five years and older).

During our recent visit to India, we had the privilege of meeting older children waiting for adoptive families, many of whom were 4-8 years old. The children appeared to be thriving in community-based schools, are receiving necessary medical care, and appear to be well cared for in the orphanages. These children are waiting due to age (over three), HIV+ status, birth family background, limb differences, or other conditions that will require future treatment. The children's orphanages want the children to find permanent families as soon as possible; they are motivated and open to providing necessary information to families who consider these children.

Myth 3: The medical information about the children in India is incomplete and inaccurate.

The amount of medical and background information available to the U.S. agency from the Indian orphanage has increased in amount and detail in the past few years. Not only can the U.S. agency directly communicate with the caregivers at an orphanage after a child is matched, but once matched, a family is allowed to visit the child directly and/or arrange to have a local doctor examine the child. This visit is done and information can be obtained and reviewed before the family is obligated to make their final adoption decision.

In our agency's recent visit to India, we visited many of the children whom we had initially learned about via the CARA online portal. Upon meeting with the children in person, we found orphanages to be very cooperative and open to sharing necessary medical and developmental information so that families have the appropriate information to decide whether they can proceed with the adoption of an identified child.

Myth 4: It's possible for a child to be matched with more than one family and for one family to discover they are unable to complete the adoption process.

Using India's online portal of waiting children, once an agency "locks" a child for a preliminary match with a family, the child's profile disappears from the portal and no other agency has access to that child's information. (If the preliminary match does not result in an acceptance by the adoptive family, the child's profile is "unlocked" and his/her information returns to the portal.) Before any preliminary match is presented to the family, the child's matching status is verified with the child's orphanage. All children matched through the India program are legally free for adoption as defined by India's CARA Guidelines and per India's standing as a Hague country. Children's Home enjoys positive and communicative direct relationships with the orphanage staff with whom we are processing adoptions, as well as with CARA, and has faith in this process and the protections it affords families who have matched with children.

Myth 5: Families need to spend a lot of time in India throughout the process.

Once matched by CARA or by Children's Home, the child is in his/her new adoptive family in the United States an average of 7-11 months after the acceptance dossier is received by India. As part of this process, according to CARA Guidelines, families are only required to travel once to India. Furthermore, the CARA Guidelines have streamlined the process, which now includes fewer steps in India than previously.

The typical trip for a family to pick up their child is 7-10 days. However, depending on the age of the child and the Indian state in which the child resides, the trip can range from 2-4 weeks. For instance, for a child who is four years or older, extra time is needed to obtain results from the U.S.-required visa medical examination. For a child under age four, it takes one day for results; for children over the age of four, it takes three to five days. The location of the child can also extend the time frame. The states of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh require that the adoptive parent(s) appear in court as part of the process, so that means an additional 7-10 days in country. Children's Home will work to assist you through the entire travel process, with travel preparation and the ability to contact an agency staff member at any time during the trip.

 




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