The nodal body for adoption in the country has barred partners in live-in relationships from adopting a child on the ground that cohabitation without marriage is not considered a stable family in India.
The Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) permits a single woman to adopt a child of any gender, while single men can adopt only boys.
In case an applicant is married, both spouses must give their consent for adoption and should be in a stable marriage for at least two years. Candidates must be physically fit, financially sound, mentally alert and highly motivated to adopt a child, as per the Adoption Regulations 2017.
Foreign agency approval
“It has been decided that the cases of single PAP (prospective adopting parent) in a live-in relationship with a partner will not be considered eligible to adopt a child and their registration through the AFAAs (authorised foreign adoption agencies) will not be considered for approval,” according to the CARA in a circular issued last week.
CARA’s CEO, Lt. Col. Deepak Kumar, told The Hindu that the decision was taken in a meeting of its Steering Committee last month as there were “three to four” applications pending because of a lack of clarity on the issue.
He added that all these cases involved foreign applicants and the status of their relationship came to the fore when a team from a partner agency paid them a visit to prepare a home study report to determine their suitability for adoption.
Explaining the rationale behind the decision, Lt. Col. Kumar said, “In India, a live-in relationship is not considered a stable family and we need to ensure the best interest of the child is served.”
To a question on what happens if a single parent decides to enter into a live-in relationship after adopting a child, the officer said, “We can’t predict what happens in future but what we look for [at the time of assessing a candidate’s suitability] is a stable family.”
‘Not a sin’
The Supreme Court has on several occasions said that a live-in relationship is neither a crime or a sin.
Last month, the Supreme Court had said that adult couples have the right to live together even if they were not married.
It said that even the legislature recognised live-in relationships through the provisions under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005.
Under the Act, women in a live-in relationship have been accorded protection as it allows females living with a male person in a relationship in the nature of marriage to file a complaint of domestic violence.