Adoption in India: Stats 2022

 “Adoption in India: Stats 2022”


Since the beginning of the pandemic, more than 3,000 children have been orphaned due to Covid-19 and other reasons, according to an affidavit filed by the National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights. The official figure offered by the ministry of women and child development (WCD) is 600 orphans, which is not reliable given the magnitude of Covid-19 deaths in the country.

A legislative group has proposed that the country’s adoption procedure be streamlined, citing figures from the ministry of women and child development that estimated the number of prospective adoptive parents waiting to adopt at roughly 26,000, compared to the 2,400 children available in the pool. They demanded that extra attention be paid to youngsters who are waiting to be adopted.

According to the report, the WCD ministry shared with the committee that there were 26,000 potential adoptive parents registered at the time of disposition, but only 2,400 children were legally free for adoption, 900 of them were children with special needs. It was also claimed that numerous steps had been taken to make the adoption process easier, including revisions to the JJ Act to give district magistrates the jurisdiction to issue adoption orders, as well as the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956.

The committee advised that the adoption process be streamlined by taking a thorough look at the numerous regulations that govern the procedure, and that the ministry consults with relevant specialists in the field to gain feedback on the practical obstacles that prospective parents face.

The panel recommends that the issue of children with special needs be given special attention in terms of raising awareness and advocating on various platforms, as well as regular sensitization of prospective adoptive parents.


As of December 2021, the Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) had 1,936 children legally available for adoption, while the number of couples seeking to adopt continues to rise, with an estimated 36,000 couples on the waiting list. Only 61 (3%) of the children available for adoption were classified as “healthy and under the age of 2”, while 1248 (64%) were classified as “special needs”.

Families of Joy (FoJ), a non-profit organization, issued its quarterly data analysis on Friday, highlighting that records from December reveal that the maximum number of healthy children under the age of 2 are legally available for adoption in any state is at the time, about 10.

The figures came from CARA’s CARINGS database, which is for potential; adoptive parents. The pandemic, according to FoJ founder Avinash Kumar, has lengthened the already lengthy waiting period for couples. The data also shows that 463 (24%) of the total children in the adoption pool were healthy children over the age of 2, and 148 (8%) were classified as sibling sets. The patterns are reflected in the FoJ analysis since the CARINGS database is dynamic, with children being adopted constantly dropping out of the pool and new children being added.

According to data from December 2018, the percentage of children under the age of 2 years was 11%. It was already low, but currently, it stands at just 3% (Kumar). On the other hand, the percentage of children with special needs has increased. It was 51% in December 2018, and it increased to 56% in 2019, and 60% in 2020. In 2021, the share was expected to be over 64%.

The story behind the numbers

Theoretically, there should be many more children. After all, there are a staggering number of orphaned or abandoned children in this country who are housed in Child Care Institutions (CCIs), from which they might be deemed legally free for adoption and so linked to adoption agencies. According to UNICEF figures, there were 2,27,518 children living in CCIs in 2020. As a precaution against the pandemic, the Supreme Court ordered that 1,45,788 of them be reunited with their birth families. However, tens of thousands of children remain in institutions, with only a small percentage making it into the legal adoption pool and eventually finding adoptive parents.

Orphaned or abandoned children face a lengthy and difficult journey from the day they are discovered to the day they are put in an adopted home. Under the Juvenile Justice Act of 2015, they must first appear before the district child welfare committee and be placed in a CCI. After that, an attempt is made to locate and reunite the child with his or her immediate or extended family. If this fails, the child welfare committee, a quasi-judicial body, must declare the child legally free for adoption. The child is registered with CARA once the district child protection unit links them with an adoption agency. After a home study by CARA officials, the child is matched with a potential parent and a medical report is prepared.

A closer examination of the data reveals a different pattern. In the last three years, the proportion of siblings and healthy children under the age of 2 has stayed largely unchanged (8% and 4% respectively). The total number of children in the CARA pool has stayed between 2,200 and 2,300. As a result, the rise in the proportion of children with special needs comes at the expense of the proportion of healthy children over the age of 2.

Though it is understood that the pool is not static and that there is a net inflow and outflow of children, given the statistics of special needs and older children adopted by Indian parents (which are actually negligible), it is not an exaggeration to conclude that many of the children over the age of 2 are developing special needs while in the institution.

Reforms needed

The Committee recommended that CARA holds special counseling/sensitization sessions in collaboration with various fertility clinics, hospitals, and maternity centers to encourage parents to adopt children with special needs. The Committee believes that concerns such as replacing vacant positions and providing training programmes on adoption, media activities, inspection, and monitoring should be addressed.

The funds used so far, out of the authorized amount of Rs. 9549 crores and funds released as Rs. 4241 crores, total roughly Rs. 2989 crores. The Committee advised that the reasons that contribute to the fund’s underutilization be identified. 

State governments must also be involved in ensuring that the initiatives in which they have a stake are implemented efficiently, and any difficulties noted by state governments must be addressed quickly. The Committee further advises that the relevant ministries build a robust structure for continuous monitoring of the Projects/Schemes they are in charge of. In addition, criteria may be developed to guarantee that this fund is used to build routine infrastructure, which is something that the relevant departments must do anyhow. 

Anganwadi Centres (AWCs) have the potential to improve the delivery of such services and must play a much larger role in community development, especially as beneficiaries who are unable to access services due to a lack of adequate facilities at AWCs must resort to paid options, which disproportionately affect low-income families.

What is unacceptable is failing to address the deliberate trafficking that keeps deserving children out of the adoption pool, failing to provide proper care to children in adoption agencies, and being unconcerned about the growing number of children with special needs in an already shrinking adoption pool.

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