Adopting From India: The Face Behind the Lists

WACAP’s Family Finders Manager Jo Reed easily remembers what she enjoyed about traveling to India, the birth country of one of the children she adopted: it’s a list she knows by heart, and a list she loves. Here, Jo shares about her experience, and using another helpful list or two, she answers families’ questions about “why they should consider adoption from India, and why now?”


I’m a list-maker. For me, nothing brings things into focus better than writing a good list.

When I was in India, I made a list of things I loved about it:

  • Piles of paperwork on desks flapping under overhead fans, always pinned in place by a rock, iridescent glass weight or bulky stapler.
  • Dazzling white smiles.
  • Tiny steel cups filled with hot chai thick with sugar and boiled buffalo milk.
  • Helpful tins of spicy food brought by neighbors that could reduce me to tears.
  • And of course, the dark serious eyes of my daughter, my girl strapped close in her cotton sling every time I went out, as natural and essential an accessory as the hat I always wore to keep off the simmering sun.

That beautiful child is in college now, and here in the office at WACAP, I still make lists about India; lists to answer questions.

  • Why would a family choose to adopt a waiting child in India?
  • How has the adoption regulating body in India, CARA, stepped up to make the adoption process better?
  • What does WACAP do to efficiently match a family with the child they long for?
  • What can the family do to bring a treasured child home from India as quickly as possible?
Child shares a spirited grin, wearing a bright blue shirt

Home and loved by a family

Today’s list pours out in a torrent…. a monsoon of words.  Why a waiting child in India?

  • It’s economical. Compared to other international adoptions, an adoption in India is one of the more affordable ways to adopt; fees are lower and the stay in the country can be managed on a smaller budget than in more industrialized countries.
  • The process is short, compared to many countries’ international adoptions. If your family is open to adopting a waiting child—either a child over seven considered healthy or a child of any age with an identified medical concern, the adoption will likely take 12 to 20 months from start to finish.
  • Travel is flexible. Most areas require only one two-week trip of either or both parents, although a few Indian courts will require two. For families who find it difficult for both parents to leave the U.S., India is one of the few countries that will accommodate them.
  • A familiar language. Many Indian citizens speak three or more languages fluently, and English will be one of them. You’ll be able to speak with orphanage directors, doctors, judges and others who facilitate your adoption.
  • Singles can adopt. For waiting children, singles (including men!) can be matched with a child as soon as paperwork is completed; married couples aren’t given priority.
  • Medication use by families is less likely to be a barrier. With proper documentation, India accepts adoptive families who take medications for anxiety or depression.
  • Better caregiver to child ratio. For many countries, the ratio of caregivers to children in orphanages is about one per ten children. In India, that ratio is more likely to be one caregiver per three to five children, unless they are in a government run orphanage. Children are more likely to have more personal interactions with caregivers–on laps, being held, or carried around on a hip.
  • The need is great. There are so many children waiting for families (over a thousand every day on India’s list of waiting children—and over 300 of these are school-aged considered healthy) and opportunities are very limited for a waiting child who doesn’t find a family.
  • The time is right. Currently most of WACAP’s families adopting from India are already matched with children, so starting your adoption now will mean your wait will be shorter. Most families are being matched with children with medical needs or school age children in good health in less than two months of completing their homestudies! In the last year the number of children matched with family has doubled, and we expect that number to keep growing.
close-up photo of smiling child with a sparkle in her eyes

Smiling, and loved by a family.

Looking back at this list (just bursting to become longer), I realize I’ll have to wait to share more rambling lists with you but not before sharing one more short but important one:

  • Start Now!
  • Begin your homestudy right away.
  • Your child is already waiting for you. Please believe that.
  • You may not be able to see her/him on India’s list ahead of time, but I can.
  • I see the faces on the list every day, and it’s heartbreaking not to have families ready for them.

Last night I received a lively call from my own dark-eyed girl to arrange coming back for the summer, her words tumbling over each other in excitement about her school, her friends, and her busy life. Then finally a pause. I miss you mom. I can’t wait to see you. A spoken jewel I will keep forever.

You’ll have a phone call like that someday, too. Start now!

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.

sisters wearing colorful knit hats sitting next to each other, hugging

Sisters spending time together


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 children, 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.
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2 Responses to Adopting From India: The Face Behind the Lists

  1. Donna Thompson says:

    I would love to adopt from India!! I’m open to Special Needs children, siblings, I would prefer to adopt children between the ages of infant to 10 years old.(also interested in adoption from Ethiopia.) Anxious to adopt!! Inquired several years ago.Still interested but would need financila help to travel and Adoption Fees.

  2. WACAP says:

    Hi Donna, thank you for connecting with us. Our adoption specialist team can be reached at wacap@wacap.org (or you’re welcome to call us at 800-732-1887). We’d be happy to set up a time to talk with you one-on-one and help answer your questions!

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