Adopting From India: Q&A With Family Finders

Here, WACAP’s Family Finders Manager Jo Reed talks about adopting from India, the children, and getting help with the process.

An adoptive parent of two children, Jo understands why it’s important to ask questions when starting out, and why it’s also important to have someone there to answer them.

For those considering adoption from India, Jo has answered some of the frequent questions she hears, and offers help as new questions arise.  


Child home with adoptive family

Who are the children that need families? Can I adopt a healthy young child from India?

The children that need families in India range in age, from infants to children age 15.

  • If you have a citizenship tie to India, you can adopt a younger, healthy child. The Indian governmental agency that oversees adoptions designates children as healthy if they don’t have known medical or developmental needs.
  • If you don’t have an Indian citizenship tie, you can adopt a child age 6 or younger with medical needs, up to age 15. Or you can adopt a child, or siblings, age 7 or older without known medical/developmental needs.

Children with medical or developmental needs typically wait longer to be adopted, and they have wide range of medical needs, spanning from issues that are very mild and correctable to conditions requiring longer-term treatment or care.

India’s central adoption agency has created an online listing of the children who are waiting in orphanages. This listing gives agencies like WACAP access to the children’s information, so they can be matched with the adoptive family that’s right for them.

When it comes to considering medical or developmental needs, do I need to be open to everything?

WACAP staff won’t ask you to consider adopting a child you’re not open to … or who has needs you’re not comfortable with.

However, we will talk with you extensively about the types of needs you do (or could) feel prepared for. We’ll recommend research you can do. We can talk with you about the types of needs that many adoptive families tend to be more open to. And we’ll reassure you that everyone has different levels of comfort with different types of needs.

Through our conversations, we can learn more about what is possible for your family, and we can refer you to other families who’ve adopted children with the types of needs you may be considering, or that you have questions about.

But here’s the bottom line: We want to help you adopt a child whose needs you feel equipped and prepared to care for. And we are here to have those conversations with you.

What if I want to adopt a healthy school-age child?

Many school age children considered healthy need adoptive families.

There are also children up to age 15 with medical and developmental needs who need families.

Child home with adoptive family

I’m considering adopting a child with “special needs” from India. What are some medical or developmental needs I might expect to see?

Families considering adopting a waiting child are often open to children with medical concerns in these categories:

  • Surgically correctable conditions that might be heart conditions, cleft lip and palate, operable cataracts, club feet, hernia, etc.
  • Treatable conditions like some skin conditions, anemia, tuberculosis, HIV+, asthma, diabetes, hypospadias, some vision, hearing, and speech concerns, dental issues, seizure disorders, ADHD, etc.
  • Stable conditions (that don’t get worse) such as limb differences, mild cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, scarring or birthmarks.

As we talk with you, we’ll encourage you to research the different types of needs that we see in children and have thoughtful conversations with your family, your doctors, other parents, and your social worker to help you determine what will be manageable for you.

Throughout the process, you’ll be able to learn more about the care involved, prepare, and find out about support and resources that can help you after your child comes home. With ongoing preparation and conversations in advance of adopting, you’ll be able to feel more confident about parenting your child.

What if I find that I’m not comfortable with the needs the children have?

That’s okay! We can talk with you about the other countries where we work and see if there’s an option that works well for you.

We’ll share more about our other countries’ adoption requirements that may fit your family’s needs, share about the children, and discuss what might work best for your family.

You’re welcome to contact us at wacap@wacap.org, and we can schedule a time to talk that works for you.

Child home with adoptive family

I’ve seen photos or movies (such as “Lion”), where children in India are shown in crowded orphanages. How accurate is that?

With hundreds of orphanages throughout India that are licensed to refer children for international adoption, orphanage size and resources can vary widely.

However, there are more caregivers to the number of children (one caregiver for every 3-5 children). This is one of the better orphanage caregiver-to-child ratios of the countries where WACAP works.

While orphanages’ resources do vary, the children are likely to have more contact with caregivers, and have those interactions more regularly.

We’ll make sure to share all we can with you about your child’s orphanage and the quality of care.

Can I adopt two unrelated children from India?

No; the Indian government does not does not allow the simultaneous adoption of unrelated children.

How old are the children in need of adoption?

Infants to children age 15 need families.

Because of the time involved in going through the formal adoption process, paperwork, India’s court process, travel, etc., even the youngest children will be toddlers or older by the time they come home, so we ask families adopting very young children to be open to children age 24 months.

Why aren’t the children adopted by families in India? Or are they?  

Yes, many children are adopted in India by families who live there. Most often, the children adopted by families in India are young, healthy infants.

The majority of Indian children in need of adoption, but who are not adopted in their country of birth, have medical needs, are older, or are part of a group of older siblings.

Child home with adoptive family

Can I adopt siblings from India?

Yes. Typically, the siblings in need of adoption are school-age.  Many of the siblings groups we see are pairs of two, and they need a family to adopt them together.

We have sometimes seen larger groups of siblings — up to as many as five — that need families. 

What if my family can’t adopt all of the children in a sibling group?

India only refers siblings for adoption together, and WACAP agrees that keeping siblings together is in the best interest of the children.

How can I trust that the adoption is ethical?

There have been major changes in India as the government has become a Hague country, and as the Indian government has reviewed and overhauled its adoption laws and process.

The Indian government agency that oversees adoption (CARA) ensures these laws and processes are followed and understood by the orphanages and courts across India so that adoptions are done ethically. That includes CARA overseeing and ensuring that the process has been followed regarding a child’s background and the child being legally able for adoption.

I’m starting my homestudy to adopt internationally, but what if I’m not positive I’ll be adopting from India?

You can still start your international homestudy, and begin gathering the necessary documents, without making a final decision on the country you’ll be adopting from.

However, you will need to decide on the country you’re adopting with before the homestudy can be completed, as all international homestudies are country-specific.

In the meantime, though, we’ll help you with your questions as you work on the paperwork and collecting the documents you need. You can also contact us at familyfinders@wacap.org if you’d like to talk about your options and learn more about the children waiting for families in the countries where we work.

Child home with adoptive family

What’s one of the most important things I need to know about adopting from India?

A child can only be matched with your family once your homestudy is completed, which means … the child or children that you’re going to adopt from India will become known to you after your homestudy is completed.

There are no photos/profiles of waiting children from India on WACAP’s Waiting Child webpage (because of India’s posting requirements), but you are welcome to request a listing of the children by emailing us at familyfinders@wacap.org.

If you’re hoping to adopt a very young child with manageable or correctable needs, you won’t see that child’s file on the list of children we’re advocating for — because they’re matched right away with families whose homestudies are completed.

Visit WACAP’s website to learn more about adopting from India, and let our Family Finders staff know how we can help answer your questions.

Child home with adoptive family


Jo Reed of WACAP's Family Finders Team smilesAbout WACAP’s Family Finders Program Manager, Jo Reed: Jo came to WACAP in 2004 and with her, an unyielding commitment to bringing children and families together. An adoptive parent of two girls herself, Jo is also a daily advocate for every child growing up without permanency. Through her work with WACAP’s Family Finders, she has helped share the stories of thousands of children who needed advocates and a family.

About WACAP

WACAP (World Association for Children and Parents) is one of the largest and most experienced international nonprofit adoption and child assistance agencies in the United States. Since 1976, we’ve placed over 10,000 children with loving adoptive parents and provided food, medical care and education to more than 200,000 children around the world.
This entry was posted in Adoption, Adoption FAQ, Advice, International Adoption, Staff/Board Spotlight and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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