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25 Factors to Consider When Adopting from India

Also available in a printable version.

Current as of October, 2013.  In November of 2012, India suspended all intercountry adoption applications in order to clear a backlog of existing cases. In March of 2013, it lifted these restrictions for older and special needs children, and indicated it would lift restrictions on non-special needs children within the year.  However, India is experiencing delays in the implementation of its new child welfare system called the “Integrated Child Protection Scheme.”  These delays are impacting all services to children, including adoption.  Contact an adoption agency for the most up-to-date information.

Parental Age

Parents must be at least 25 years old and have no more than 45 years between older parent and child.  For children under three years old, the composite age of parents should be less than 90 and neither parent can be over 50.  For children over three years old, the composite age of parents should be less than 105 and neither parent can be over 55.

Length of Marriage

2 years


2 divorces per couple

Children in Family

Up to 4 children at home (considered on a case by case basis)

Single Applicant

Male and female applicants between 30-50 on a case-by-case basis.  For children under three years old, the maximum age is 45.  Single males are not allowed to adopt a girl.

Sexual Orientation

Does not knowingly place with homosexuals.

Children Available

Infants to 12 years with significant medical conditions; 3-6 with minor to moderate medical conditions; “healthy” children over the age of 7.  Sibling groups are occasionally available.


East Indian


Both boys and girls, although there are more boys than girls.

Adopting More Than One Unrelated Child at Same Time

Not allowed

Travel in Country

At least one parent (preferable both) must make a one to two week trip to India. Some courts may require a second trip for a brief appearance before a judge and a monetary deposit.

Referral Method


Wait for Referral (After Dossier Submitted)

9-17 months (depending on age, gender and health preferences of the child)

Wait After Referral

12-18 months

Approximate Cost

$28,000 - $36,000 (includes travel)

Youngest Age Upon Arrival Home

Don’t expect a child younger than two.

Orphanage/Foster Care

Orphanage, quality is reported by parents and IA doctors as good.

How Children Enter Government Care

Most infants come into after relinquishment or abandonment by single mothers due to poverty and societal pressures against unwed motherhood. Toddlers and older children generally come into care after termination of parental rights due to neglect, abuse, or death or illness of parents.

Prevalence of FAS

Historically drinking during pregnancy is not common and IA doctors report that they are not seeing much evidence of FAS.

Adequacy of Medical Reports

Varies according to the orphanage.  All children are tested for HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis B and TB.  Generally, children with special needs have more information; additional information is not always available.

Program Stability


Number of Children Placed in the US in 2012



Slowly declining

Post Placement Reports

Required at 1, 6, 9, 12, 18 and 24 months.

Hague Treaty


Additional Information

  • India gives first preference to domestic adoption families, who receive the youngest and healthiest children. Local adoption has tripled in the last years and domestic families are on wait lists. Indian families abroad need to know that the children cleared for international adoption are likely to be three years and older or have involved special needs. Non-Indian parents are considered after Indian parents.
  • India gives first preference to domestic Indian families, then NRIs (Indian passport holders who reside abroad) then OCIs, then PIOs (Persons of Indian Origin) and non-Indians.  Families of non-Indian descent are eligible to adopt identified children with special needs through the Waiting International Children (WIC) program.
  • Families must be able to show that they earn above 125% of the national poverty guidelines.
  • Indian passport/OCI holders must be open to children 3-4 years and older at time of referral.
  • Non-Indian applicants must be open to children 4 years and older at time of referral.
  • India has a 47% child malnutrition rate and low birth weight is very common.
  • Requirements vary greatly with each region with judges following their own court rules. Agencies work in specific regions and should be your best guide to the idiosyncrasies of the judges in that region.
  • The majority of adoptions are final in India per India’s Juvenile Justice Act.  The children immigrate to the US on IH-3 Hague finalized adoption visas.

Useful Links

Great Blogs

Creating a Family Sponsors

Children's House International Adoptions

Dillon International

Holt International Children's Services


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