CARA, India’s Adoption Regulation Body

By Amigos IAS

Why is it in the news?

  • India’s adoption process faces significant delays, with prospective parents waiting for an average of three years.
  • The Supreme Court has expressed concern about the delays and questioned the Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA).
  • CARA is responsible for regulating the adoption of orphaned, surrendered, and abandoned children in India.


About CARA

  • CARA was established in 1990 under the Ministry of Women and Child Development to oversee child adoption procedures.
  • It centralizes registration for children and prospective parents, conducts home study reports, and facilitates the adoption process.
  • India became a signatory to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children in 1993, facilitating international adoptions.


CARA’s Evolving Role

  • CARA’s powers expanded with the passage of the Juvenile Justice Act in 2015, aiming to streamline the adoption process and prevent malpractices.
  • It introduced an e-governance system (CARINGS) to facilitate adoption and enhance transparency.
  • CARA allowed individuals in a live-in relationship to adopt children.
  • Further amendments to the JJ Act in 2022 authorized local District Magistrates (DMs) to issue adoption orders, decentralizing responsibilities.


Functions of CARA

  • CARA monitors and regulates various adoption-related bodies, including State Adoption Resource Agency (SARA), Specialized Adoption Agency (SAA), and more.
  • The adoption process involves registration, home study reports, referral, and post-adoption follow-ups.


Challenges Confronting CARA

  • Challenges include the difficulty of bringing children into safety nets, declaring them legally free for adoption, and ensuring actual adoptions.
  • Poor functioning and administrative issues in agencies like SAA and Child Welfare Committees (CWC) hinder the identification of adoptable children.
  • Confusing adoption laws, complicated court processes, and the popularity of traditional adoption methods add to challenges.
  • The 2022 JJ Act changes, authorizing DMs to issue adoption orders, led to confusion among stakeholders.
  • High costs and requirements for inter-country adoptions, including CARA’s ‘no objection certificates,’ have made the process difficult.
  • Some argue that the system is too “parent-centric” and should focus more on safeguarding the child’s well-being.



  • There is a need for a “child-centric, optional, enabling, and gender-just” adoption law to prioritize the child’s welfare.
  • The current laws, such as the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act (HAMA), do not adequately protect the child’s interests.
  • CARA should prioritize child well-being and address procedural challenges to create a more efficient adoption system.


Adoption Laws in India

·       Adoption in India is governed by two laws: the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956 (for Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, and Buddhists) and the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015.

·       CARA plays a key role in the adoption process under the Juvenile Justice Act.

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