Insider's Guide to Adopting from: India

Globe Who can adopt?

• Married couples between the ages of 25-45 (Couples must be married for at least three years.)
• Single women between the ages of 25-45
• Age exceptions are made on a case-by-case basis up to age 50.
• Single applicants must make a minimum annual salary of $25,000, and couples must make a minimum annual combined salary of $30,000.

How much does it cost?

• From $13,000-$20,000 including travel/escort

Time frame:

• Unpredictable. The process can be as fast as nine months, while some adoptions have taken two years. Timing depends on the agency you use (CARA, Central Adoption Resource Agency, can take one to six months for approval), how long the waiting list is, and the length of the court processing time for guardianship. Average time is approximately 12-18 months.
• Typical timeline after the dossier is submitted ranges from four to nine months for a referral; four to nine months processing time until the child is ready to travel; three to eight weeks for INS approval.
• My timeline was three months for referral, nine weeks for guardianship, eight weeks for INS, three weeks for the visa and travel. Total of five months after referral! (I used the Dillon International Agency, which works in Calcutta.)
• Adopting from Calcutta is faster, as Calcutta does not have to deal with CARA.

The Process

• Receive a referral for a child from your U.S. agency.
• If you choose to accept the referral, you will sign child study/acceptance papers for your child and send them back to your U.S. agency.

• Your U.S. agency will send the acceptance papers onto the Indian agency for processing. You may receive periodic updates, medical reports and photos of your child throughout your wait.
• Your agency may let you know when you have CARA clearance (except in Calcutta where it is not needed).
• Your U.S. agency will notify you of the guardianship order and you can file the I-600 papers either in your home state INS office or at the U.S. consulate in New Delhi. (In Delhi it only takes two to three days to process, where as in the U.S. it can sometimes take months.)
• In certain states the original guardianship order must go to the state where they give their 'approval', then it will either go to the local INS office or back to you if you intend to file in Delhi.
• If you file here, your U.S. agency will send a fax approving your I-600 papers to the consulate and will also notify your Indian adoption agency so they can begin the passport and visa process and arrange an escort.
• If you plan to travel, your U.S. agency will let you know when you can arrange travel. You can have the I-600 papers already completed, so that you do not have to travel to New Delhi, or you can opt to go to New Delhi and do it yourself. If your I-600 papers are already completed, there is no requirement on how long you must stay. The trip may be as brief as one day if you so desire.

Advantages:

• Escort option. You can travel to get your child or have the child escorted.

• There are many babies placed up for adoption. In Calcutta, I found that babies were available between the ages of five to nine months. I know of several infants who arrived at the age of four months, but that is unusual.
• You can use any U.S. agency. It does not matter what state you reside in and there are many agencies.
• You can choose the gender of the child. Two thirds of the children are girls and one third are boys.
• Most of the children are healthy.

Disadvantages:

• Children are in orphanages, though, for the most part, they are well taken care of.

Calcutta Agencies

• Dillion International (works with ISRC, Indian Society for Rehabilitation of Children)
• Children's Home Society of Minnesota (HSM, U.S. agency and IMH, Indian Agency
• Friends of Children from Various Nations (FCVN, U.S.agency and IMH, Indian Agency)
• IMH tends to have many premature and low birth weight babies. ISRC has some premature and low birth weight babies, in addition to normal babies.


--by Wendy Pott
email: wpott@ultrasw.com

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