Who can be adopted

Section 38 and 56 of the JJ Act 2015; Regulation 4 of Adoption Regulations


A child can be adopted if s/he is:

  • An orphan, abandoned or surrendered child who has been declared legally free for adoption by the Child Welfare Committee as per the provisions of the JJ Act 2015 and the corresponding rules
  • A child of a relative where a relative means the child’s paternal uncle or aunt, a maternal uncle or aunt or paternal and maternal grandparents
  • A child or children of spouse from earlier marriage surrendered by the biological parent(s) for adoption by the step-parent.


The procedural steps for declaring such a child ‘free for adoption’ differ based on whether the child is an orphan or abandoned or surrendered child.


Abandoned Child:  Abandoned child means a child who is found unaccompanied by adults or a child deserted by his/her parents. Such a child has to be declared ‘abandoned’ by the CWC after due inquiry and efforts to trace the biological family of the child. Abandoned children include children received at cradle reception centers, or infants found abandoned in public places such as stations, bus-stops, trains, hospitals etc. Children brought to be surrendered by one of birth parents who claim they have no knowledge about the whereabouts of their spouses or children brought by relatives are also treated as ‘abandoned’ and due process is followed to trace their biological family.


Surrendered Child: is a child who is relinquished by his/her parents or legal guardians. The reasons for surrendering the child could be as listed underneath:

  • The child is born as a consequence of nonconsensual relationship
  • The child is born of an unwed mother or out of a wedlock
  • One of the biological parents of the child is dead and the living parent is incapacitated or unfit to take care of the child
  • The parents of the child are compelled to relinquish him or her due to emotional, physical or social factors beyond their control.

Such children are declared legally free for adoption only after extensive counseling of the birth parent and after a reconsideration period of 60 days. If a birth parent approaches to claim the child with in the period of 60 days such children are not declared free for adoption. But after the completion of 60 days period, the child is declared legally free for adoption and the biological parents have no claim on him/her.


Orphaned Child: A child who is without biological parents or legal guardians. Even in the case of such children the CWC attempts to trace the biological family of the child following due process. A child s declared legally free for adoption only if biological family cannot be traced within the 60 days period.

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