In India, adoption of children by Hindu adults is governed by the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956 (HAMA). According to section 2 of HAMA, this Act is applicable to all the persons who are Hindu by religion in any of its forms or developments or who are either Sikh, Jain, or Buddhist by religion. Therefore, HAMA is applicable to all the Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists.
Conditions to be fulfilled by Adoptive Parent:
According to section 7 of HAMA, a Hindu male can adopt a child under the provisions of HAMA only if:
- He is minimum 18 years old and is of a sound mind.
- Consent of wife is required for Adoption unless she has renounced the world or she ceases to be a Hindu or she has been declared to be of unsound mind by a Competent Court of Law.
Also, as per section 11 of HAMA, if a Hindu male adopts a female child, there must be at least 21 years age difference between the two. Further, if the adoption is of a daughter or son, the adoptive father or mother by whom the adoption is made must not have a Hindu daughter or son’s daughter or son, son’s son or son’s son’s son respectively living at the time of adoption.
A Hindu woman can also adopt a child under section 8 of HAMA, if she is either unmarried or a widow or a divorcee. If she is married, the consent of the husband is required to be taken. However, following exceptions apply:
- If husband has been declared to be of unsound mind by a court of competent jurisdiction.
- If husband has completely and finally renounced the world.
- If husband has ceased to be a Hindu.
Similarly, under section 11 of HAMA, if a Hindu femals adopts a male child, there must be at least 21 years age difference between the two. Further, if the adoption is of a daughter or son, the adoptive father or mother by whom the adoption is made must not have a Hindu daughter or son’s daughter or son, son’s son or son’s son’s son respectively living at the time of adoption.
Who can give the child in Adoption:
Only father or mother or a legal guardian of a child can give the child in Adoption under section 9 of HAMA.
METHOD OF ADOPTION:
As per section 11 of HAMA, the child who is to be adopted must be actually given and taken in adoption by the parents or guardian, as the case may be. No Shastric or religious ceremony is required for the same. However, intention of the parties must be clear from their act.
Moreover, section 11 provides that the child who has once been adopted cannot be given in adoption again by the adoptive parents.
CONSEQUENCES OF VALID ADOPTION
Section 12 of HAMA says that after adoption, a child loses all his / her ties with the natural family and becomes a child of adoptive family as if he / she has been natural born there. The adopted child is conferred with all the rights and privileges of a natural born child in the adopting family.
Moreover, section 15 says that once an adoption is valid in the eyes of law then it can never be cancelled by the adoptive father or mother nor can adopted child can renounce his or her status and go back to his or her natural family. It is final and binding upon the child as well as the parents.