In Part 3, we discuss the legalities that you need to take care of once your baby comes home from the adoption agency.
Court order and adoption deed
- You need to visit the city civil court as a family when your case comes up for hearing. The adoption order states that your petition to adopt the child of your choice has been approved; that you are the legal parents of the child; and that the child has all the inheritance rights of a birth child. Only after the adoption order is passed, does the child become legally yours.
- The adoption deed (a legal document that states that the prospective parents wish to adopt the said child from the said adoption agency in the absence of its birth parents and any close kin who will take responsibility of the child) prepared by the lawyer, along with the court order, then needs to be sent to the adoption agency.
- To get the birth certificate of the child, the adoptive parents (petitioners) are required to register the deed in the sub-registrar's office in their own geographical division.
- The deed (an attested copy), along with a letter requesting that the adoptive parents be named as the legal parents on the child's birth certificate, must be submitted to the municipal ward under which the child was born.
- The court order directs the municipal corporation to issue the birth certificate to the adoptive parents. Once this is done, the adoption process is complete.
Delhi-based couple Ananya and Shantanu Dutta, who adopted their daughter Shahana from Buldhana (Maharashtra), got a bit unlucky with the wait (the legal procedure can sometimes take time when adopting from a smaller city or town. "We were told that it could upto two years for the case to come up!" says an exasperated Ananya, who is still waiting for their case to come up for hearing at Buldhana. "This is usually because there is no civil court in smaller cities and towns, and it is the discretion of the judge when he/she takes up the case for hearing," explains legal counsel Dipal Mehta.
Help at hand
It is advisable that adoptive parents sign up with support groups, who help with tips, suggestions and the innumerable questions that parents have about raising an adopted child. For instance, Ananya says, "I used to feel guilty about scolding my daughter when she was naughty because she'd been deprived of love at the time of birth. Joining an online support group helped me connect with parents who made me realise that disciplinary action must be taken when necessary for the welfare of the child."
Bangalore-based IT executives, Varsha and Rishabh Sethia too, found help in an adoptive parents support group, called Sudatta. "We belong to a conservative family and did not know how to tell our parents about the decision to adopt. We found courage after counselling from Sudatta and convinced our parents that there was no stigma attached to adoption. Today, our 2-year-old Shaurya is the apple of his grandparents' eyes," say the beaming Sethias.
- The adoption agency will also provide any post-adoption counselling, in case you need it. This may be particularly relevant in case of older children who are able to grasp the concept of adoption. Older children are sensitively introduced to the idea of going to a new home where a father and a mother will look after him/her. If a child is adopted at a younger age when he/she is not aware that he/she is adopted, prospective parents are advised to keep a baby book and weave stories around adoption so that it doesn't come as a rude shock for the child later.
- The adoption agency will be in touch with you for at least two years post adoption to conduct follow-ups. The city civil court stipulates that agency representatives will visit your home three times in the first year and twice in the second year after the child comes home.
- As adoptive parents you may feel like you're being judged by the agency at times, but don't resent the agency's probing questions-it is simply their responsibility to ensure that the child grows up in a healthy and happy home.