A dash of Pepper…

…with a splash of Mint

Adoption journey – Part 1

Posted by Pepper on April 7, 2016

I’ve already mentioned in a previous post that we are seriously considering adopting a baby. I received a few requests by people asking me to document the process for their benefit. I figured this was a good idea. People don’t know enough about adoption in India. Writing about my experiences would not only help me record my own journey, but would also be a source of information for others who may be interested in going down this path.

So here we go. To start with, adoption is defined as “a legal process that allows someone to become the parent of a child, even though the parent and child are not related by blood. But in every other way, adoptive parents are the child’s parents”. Adoption can be done in two different ways, open and closed. It is important to note that India does not do open adoptions. By this, I mean the adoptive parents are never given access or information about the child’s birth mother / parents. Neither do the birth parents have access to the adoptive parents.

One of the reasons I felt convinced to adopt was because I was sure I would not have to share my future child with her birth family. I know my attitude reeks of insecurity. But I want my child to be only mine, at least during all the formative years. Once the child reaches 18 years of age, he/she has the right to go seek the birth family and the Indian court is legally bound to oblige and divulge all information about the child’s birth parents. Now this, I am totally comfortable with. I feel confident that both me and the child will be secure enough in 18 years. I know I can handle it then, even if it means including the birth parents as a permanent part of my child’s life. But at 3 or 5? I am really not so sure I can deal with it. I know most adoptions in the US are open adoptions and the adoptive parents are happy to involve the birth families in their child’s life. It all seems to fit in seamlessly. I hold such parents in high regard.

Since all legal adoptions in India are closed, agencies play a large role in the whole process. Or at least they did. A lot of the adoption guidelines changed in August 2015. Today, adoption in India is a completely centralized process. It is handled by Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA), which is an autonomous body under the Ministry of Women & Child Development, Government of India. After the process became centralized, the agencies role was made smaller.

To kick start the adoption process, we had to first go and register ourselves as ‘parents’ on the CARA website, http://www.cara.nic.in. We had to upload several documents. This was time consuming. Anyway, once we had put together all required documents, we decided to complete our registration on the same day. We filled in all details, selected the gender of the child we wanted to adopt, (girl! of course!) and were under the impression that our task would be completed on the same day. Unfortunately, it didn’t turn out to be so easy.

For one, we were asked to choose ‘3 states for adoption’. That means, in order of preference, we had to note down 3 states our adopted child could come from. This confused us. Why was this a requirement? On what grounds were we to choose? How did the State matter? We weren’t baby shopping! Anyway, after some careful consideration, we realised that this may have been a requirement for a lot of Indians, which is why they had it there.

Since we really weren’t taking this part seriously, we began to fool around. Goa! Said Mint. We love Goa so much. Let’s get our baby from Goa. Karnataka, I said. I think girls from the interiors of Karnataka have gorgeous skin. It went on. Until we realised we were simply wasting time. We had to fill in those fields on a serious note. After some careful consideration, Goa was scraped out. Since Goa is a small state, we thought the babies available for adoption will be fewer in number, making our wait that much longer. We finally selected Maharashtra and two other states. No I will not tell you which ones.

The next thing we had to choose was an agency. The role of the agency in essence is to do your Home Study Report, which is the next step in the process after registering online. By a Home Study Report, I mean an evaluation of you that is done in your own home. Other than the Home Study Report, the agency will also do follow up visits to check on the child after you have legally adopted him/her. There was a long list of registered agencies we had to choose from. Again, on what grounds were we to choose?

It made complete sense to choose the agency closest to your home. Each registered agency showed a wait list number for the home study report. We were shocked to find out the wait list number for home study in some agencies close to our home was 400! That meant they had to study 400 other homes before they even got to you. The HSR is a crucial step in the adoption process, without which things will not move. We really didn’t want to be waiting that long to begin our process.

Mint and I started calling up individual agencies around our home to find out if the wait list was indeed as high as the number reflected. May be they had just not updated their websites? With that hope, we made a few calls, only to end up with more disappointment. The first agency I called was the one that showed the shortest wait list. I was spoken to very rudely and asked to not call again. They said they no longer did any adoption related work. Huh? Then why was their name still there as a registered agency?

Next, we called the CARA helpline to find out if there were any other agencies that were not functional. Why can’t they just update their website instead of making people waste time like that? It took a long time for the CARA representative to even understand our question. She kept sounding impatient and telling us to choose from a registered agency online. She insisted we would be able to view the list. Finally at the 10th attempt she understood what we were saying. That though an agency showed it was ‘registered’ online, they were no longer entertaining calls. After rechecking, she confirmed that the agency was no longer functional. Are there any other agencies like that, we asked. Again, she kept asking us to refer to the so called list to see which ones were registered. I gave up after a while.

We decided to make a few more calls to agencies. After all, we had to make a smart choice here. We would be partnering with these people for the next few months. We called agency A, B, C and D. And none of them was able to put us through the right representative. They kept telling us they don’t know the actual wait list and the concerned person wasn’t available now. We called over 5 times and yet, nobody would give us clear answers. This was highly frustrating.

One of the agencies told us that the actual wait list for home study report was even longer than what it showed online. I asked a few basic questions. How fast does the list typically move? She said something like, “Sister visits one home in a day. There are over 400 cases pending as of now”. What? The concerned ‘Sister’ visited only one home a day? Are there are any other people working on it? Why allot it to a single person when there is such a back log?  She said they had only one person assigned for this role. So even if we didn’t account for holidays, sick days and other delays, we had to wait over a year for the home study before our wait for the child even started? That didn’t make sense at all, and was not in line with what the website said.

After a lot more calls, we finally found an agency we liked. The representatives were good to talk to on phone and they assured us that the home study report would be completed in a month after we registered. The only problem? This agency was situated at the other end of the city. I wasn’t sure we were eligible candidates. Another call to CARA confirmed that we were free to pick any agency as long a it was in Mumbai. Finally, we were making progress. Without further delay, we selected the agency as the one we we wanted to work with and completed our registration online. The process had turned out far more cumbersome than what we’d expected.

To be continued…

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48 Responses to “Adoption journey – Part 1”

  1. Pepper

  2. Pepper I am so proud of you for following through your dreams even though it is not an easy path. Hugs and you are a huge inspiration for me and many more

    And I am so glad i chose today to log back on 🙂

    • Pepper said

      Thanks Nuttie! The process has been some what draining. I haven’t even touched upon the real difficulties in this post. But I am glad we’re hanging around..

  3. I am delighted to hear that you guys have started the process and Oh…I am as excited as you guys are too. Much love and remember this is one of the most beautiful thing we can do for a child and to us too. I wish we could have done it too. Who knows, maybe one day we will have the courage to raise one more child.

  4. Cathy samuel said

    Wonderful news ! Hope it’s a speedy process

  5. Oh wow… I thought adoption in India is not that of a tedious process with so many girls in orphans looking for parents. Glad you made a move and executing it. Hope it gets better and hopefully there isn’t any corruption while you pick the girl of your choice.

    • Pepper said

      It’s ironical how tedious a process adoption is. It makes me sad cos I think if it were a simpler process, more people would be drawn to it. Now so many people think the effort is not worth it. Having your own child may be an easier option for them!

      • One one hand, I can understand to some extent that process and paper work along with back ground check are indeed important considering what all crazy sorts of people exist and the harm that could do to kids. It also makes many good to-be parents to run away from it.
        Good luck with the whole thing pepper. It sure sounds very difficult and your choice to adopt shows your determination. And thanks for sharing the info.

        • Pepper said

          I understand the background checks and their need to be absolutely sure of who they are handing the child to as well. There are so many instances of abuse. But trust me, some of the things they ask for are a little crazy and don’t really solve any purpose. Anyway, it is what it is and we’re trying to get through it 🙂

  6. My Era said

    Congratulations on taking the first few formal steps in the direction of your dream 🙂
    Documenting it all is going to be really helpful for everyone and the best part is you’re doing it with detailed information.
    Good luck with the process, hope you guys bring home the bundle of joy soon 🙂

  7. Akhila said

    best of luck…

  8. Bikramjit said

    Seems to be a lengthy process .. and good yiu are putting up a post I am sure it’s gonna help a lot of people..

    All the best pepper. .

    • Pepper said

      It is a very lengthy process in my opinion. Though apparently it has gotten shorter after the new guidelines took effect. Thanks Bikram.

  9. It really seems tough and I was reading with a bated breath to find out if you got registered in the end. I dont understand why people would have to be rude on the phone. It’s not like we are asking for half of their property.

    • Pepper said

      We did get registered but looks like that was the easy part. The real deal with documentation began only after that. I’ll write more in my next post. Phew..

      I don’t understand why people have to be rude too. So putting off.

  10. Arathi said

    This will surely help people, who want to go the adoption route

  11. Hey Pepper, is the talk2pepper ID still operational? May I write to you on that ID?

  12. DEEPA VENKATRAMAN said

    Hi – I have been following your blog for over two years now. I love how honest you are in your posts and though it inspires me to get back to writing, I never seem to find the time. I think it takes a very strong person to follow through on their dreams, specially one like adoption which requires a very big heart. I have a 18 month old son now, and to be very honest, am not sure if I will ever follow through on my once-dream of adopting. Congratulations and the very best of luck!

  13. Trust them to make a process for doing good, as hard as possible. As much as I am shaking my head at the lack of efficiency, I am hoping and praying that your efforts give you due rewards real soon! 🙂

  14. Deepa said

    Good Luck! And I am so happy for you, very soon you will have a beautiful baby, Woo Hoo!!! Waiting for the next post…

  15. rrmom said

    my brother adopted his boy and I know what a tedious process it was. since he already had a biological daughter he could only adopt a boy. so the wait was even longer.

    • Pepper said

      Oh yes they sometimes have these crazy rules in place. Though my cousin adopted 2 girls (the second girl when the first one was 5 yrs old), so I know they do allow same gender adoptions as well.
      In general though, the wait for boys is far longer in India. Most people choose that..

      • rrmom said

        the agency he worked with told him that since he already had a girl he has to go for a boy. they will not let him opt for a girl. he wanted another girl

        • Pepper said

          Oh, I am wondering how they allowed my cousin to adopt 2 girls then. Maybe that was an agency rule rather than a rule from CARA? I’m not sure..

  16. All the best with the process and wish you loads of patience – will pray that things will smoothen as the days go by!

  17. Priya said

    Wish you all the best in this process.

  18. Bhavani said

    My sister adopted a baby girl and brought her home when the baby was 6 months old. They live in Kerala but adopted from Maharashtra. Not sure how it worked out..anyways she is 5 now and the apple of our eyes. But I have to admit they did try having their own and when things were not happening they went this route and still the happiest parents. Kudos to you and Mint and your families for supporting you in following your dreams. It is a big deal!

    All the very best!!

    • Pepper said

      I’m sure she is one of the happiest parents! I guess after a point it really stops mattering where the child came from. As long as they are a happy part of your family.. 🙂

      Thanks! Not sure we have support from Mint’s family in this, but well.. We got to go what we think is right!

  19. Good luck pepper! Going to be carefully following these updates.

  20. parijatshukla2014 said

    This is really useful writeup for everybody. Never thought the process was this difficult.

  21. Thanks for documenting this, I am sure it will be useful for many people who doesn’t know the process. Wishing you good luck in this beautiful journey!

  22. i loved this post, and if you need anything i am adopted and you can always get the kid side of adoption. alot of parents dont always get to know before hand

  23. Pinkspen said

    Great journey. God bless you!Thank you for sharing! Please check out my blog and my latest post https://aladyhoodjourney.wordpress.com/2017/03/10/my-lost-sister-part-1/
    I would love your feedback

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