The dictionary meaning of the word adoption is ‘the action or fact of adopting or being adopted. Adoption is the act of taking something on as your own. Adoption usually refers to the legal process of becoming a non-biological parent. It refers to the legal proceeding that creates the parent-child relation between persons not related by blood. The child taken in adoption is entitled to enjoy all the privileges of that of the natural child of adoptive parents (including the right to inherit). On adoption, ties of the child with old family are severed and he/she is taken as being born in the new family – acquiring rights, duties in and status of the new family.
1. Adoption Under Hindu Law
In the present scenario, the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act 1956 has completely modified the law of Adoption and has materially modified it in correspondence to the needs of the dynamism of Hindu society. Therefore every Adoption must be made in accordance with the provision of this Act.
2. Essentials of Adoption under Hindu Law
- The person adopting has the capacity and the right to take in adoption.
- The person giving in adoption has the capacity to do so.
- The person adopted is capable of being adopted.
- The adoption made should be in compliance with the other conditions of the Act.
3. Capacity of a Male Hindu to take in adoption:
According to Section 7 of the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, any male Hindu who is of sound mind and not a minor has the capacity to take a son or daughter in adoption. But if the male Hindu has a wife living at the time of the adoption of the child, he shall not adopt except on the consent of his wife.
4. Capacity of a female Hindu to take in Adoption:
Section 8 of the Act provides that any female Hindu who is of Sound mind, who is not a minor, who is not married and if married whose marriage has been dissolved or whose husband is dead or has renounced the world or has converted to other religion or has been declared to be of unsound mind by a court of competent jurisdiction has the capacity to take a son or daughter in adoption.
5. Person capable of giving Adoption:
Section 9 of the act provides with the capacity of a person, who may give the child in adoption to another. Except for the father or mother or the guardian of the child, no other person shall have the capacity to give the child in adoption.
6. Who can be adopted:
Section 10 of the act provides that the person who fulfils the following conditions is capable for adoption:
- He or she should be Hindu.
- He or she has not already been adopted.
- He or she has not been married unless there is a custom application which permits the married person to be adopted.
- He or she has not completed the age of fifteen years unless there is some custom allowing this.
7. Effects of valid Adoption:
An adopted child shall be deemed to be the child of his or her adoptive father or mother for all purposes as soon as the child is adopted and the adopted child will serve all the ties that a natural child is entitled to do.
8. Rights of adoptive parents to dispose of their properties:
Section 13 of the act lays down that an adoptive parent is in no way restrained of the disposal of their property by reason of adoption.
9. Relationship of the adopted child:
Section 14 lays down as to how an adopted child is related to certain relations of the adopter. When a living Hindu wife adopts a child, she gets the title of adoptive Mother. When the adoption is made, a person who has more than one wife, the senior most will be called the adoptive mother. When a widower or a bachelor adopts a child, then he or she marries after adoption will be the stepparent of the child. Section 15 lays down that no adoption which has been validly made can be cancelled by the father or the mother. An adopted child cannot renounce his or her status as the adopted child and return to his natural family.
10. The child to be adopted must be actually given and taken in adoption by the parents/ guardians. Only the transfer of a child from one family to another with a ceremony will be held valid.