Ferrell India Adoption - Holt International Adoption Agency
Holt International

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Holt’s India Adoption Program

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• How old are the children?
• What are the requirements for parents adopting a child from India?
• How long will it take and how much does it cost to adopt a child from India?
• Can prospective adoptive parents request to adopt either a boy or a girl?
• How are children matched with families?
• What information do families receive about their child?
• What updates do families receive during the adoption process?
• What kind of medical care do children receive?
• How do the children come into care?
• Where do children live while they are in India?
• Do Indian and Indo-American applicants receive special consideration?
• Do families of Indian origin qualify for a special process?
• Can non-resident Indian families ask relatives or influential friends to intercede or make inquiries to expedite the process on their behalf?
• What is a "waiting child"?
• Are families required to travel to India to bring their child home?
• Does Holt have services for families and adoptees after adoption?
• Can families have direct contact with the agency in India before the adoption?
• Can families make a donation to the agency in India?
• Can people adopt even if their ages are close to the published limits for families adopting from India?
• Does a history of divorce, arrest or another factor endanger a person’s chances of adopting from India?
• Will moving to another state interrupt an adoption?
• Are “open adoptions” available from India?
• Can a family adopt two children at once?
• How much time must families wait between placements?
• Can Holt assist with an adoption of a pre-identified child?
• Describe the range of skin color of Indian children?
• I am of Indian Origin. Are there special entitlements?
• How can I obtain more information?

How old are the children?

Children range from 18 months to 8 years of age when placed for adoption.  The child’s average age when placed with an Indo-American family is about 2-3 years.  Children placed with non Indian families are about 3 years at placement, unless they have special needs.

The average age of children at placement is increasing due to growth in domestic adoption and longer governmental processing times. For more current information about the profile of children for whom we can receive applications, please see our eligibility guidelines pages located at www.holtinternational.org/adoption

Can prospective adoptive parents request to adopt either a boy or a girl?
Yes, however, India imposes some limitations.  Parents with two children of the same gender are expected to be open to a child of the opposite gender.  Hindu parents adopting via Hindu law must adopt a child of the opposite gender.
How are children matched with families?
Families are considered for children based upon the child’s strengths and needs and the family’s particular circumstances.  Every case is unique and handled individually.
What information do families receive about their child?
Holt’s partner agency staff have a great deal of expertise and provide thorough reports on children. Reports typically include:
• social history of child
• non-identifying birth parent information, if known.
• color photographs
• medical assessments and specialist reports as necessary
• child development information• brief clinical video of the child
What updates do families receive during the adoption process?
Parents receive their child’s quarterly progress reports and photos. If children require special care, parents receive copies of the evaluations and reports as well.
What kind of medical care do children receive?
Children coming into care receive a thorough multi-disciplinary assessment.  All Holt partner agencies in India have onsite neo-natal nurseries, which have specially trained staff and are equipped to stabilize the health of children who are admitted with immediate medical needs. All children receive regular well-baby checks, quarterly health checks, appropriate immunizations and lab tests including hepatitis B and HIV tests.  Care by specialists is provided as necessary.
How do the children come into care?
Children come into care through either relinquishment or by referral from police or other local government agencies.  Indian birth mothers who choose adoption for their children are cared for with compassion and professionalism. Whenever possible, mothers receive counseling so that they are making well-informed, uncoerced choices for their child and themselves.
Where do children live while they are in India?
The children are cared for in Indian foster homes or child care centers operated by Holt partner agencies. Holt’s attentive child care is known throughout the world and has been used as a model by many governments as they address their own child care policies.
Do Indian and Indo-American applicants receive special consideration?
The Government of India gives first preference to families living in India.  Next consideration is given to Non-Resident Indian families who live overseas and have a valid Indian passport. People of Indian origin who can obtain an "Overseas Citizen of India" document are considered on par with NRI applicants.

The children available for adoption to Indo American applicants are slightly younger than Non-Indian applicants.  Indo-American (NRI/OCI qualified) applicants typically receive children who are approximately 2 years old at time of assignment and approximately 2 ½ -3 years old at time of placement.
Do families of Indian origin qualify for a special process?
Eligibility guidelines are the same for Indians and non Indians.  Similarly, the overall intercountry adoption process for Indian and non Indians is the same.  It is important to note that adoption in India is by law and through a well-defined process rather than influence.   Some Indo-American applicants are permitted to travel and take pre-adoptive foster care of their child once CARA has approved the adoption.  However, this plan requires that the family be prepared to wait in India 3-6 months for the rest of the process to be completed (Court Approval, ICPC Approval, Indian Passport Issuance, Immigrant Visa Issuance).
Can non-resident Indian families ask relatives or influential friends to intercede or make inquiries to expedite the process on their behalf?
We understand that extended family or friends may want to assist.  However, even well-intentioned queries from others can be misinterpreted, may delay your adoption and impair the process for other families.  If someone offers to help, please decline.  Refer to Holt’s International Adoption Services Agreement (IASA) which must accompany your adoption application.  Section 4.4.2: “Contact (by the Adoptive Parents or any third party on their behalf) with any government official, family services agent or personnel, or orphanage personnel” is considered a material breach of contract and therefore grounds for termination.
What is a "waiting child"?
“Waiting children include older children, sibling groups, and children with medical conditions, disabilities or special needs.  Some have minor conditions such as pre-maturity, low birth weight, or other problems they are expected to outgrow.  Others have conditions that require surgery, such as lip and palate, heart or orthopedic problems.  Some children have major conditions such as cerebral palsy, dwarfism and Down Syndrome.  You may want to visit our Waiting Child Program.
Are families required to travel to India to bring their child home?
Yes, one parent is required for one week.  Holt provides extensive travel planning and support.  Holt families receive a detailed Travel Guide for Parents Adopting from India after accepting their child.  Holt staff also facilitate arrangements overseas including: Mumbai and Delhi airport greeters, transportation, hotel recommendations, reservations, setting appointments with child care agencies, and advice on related preparations for the trip.  Our staff in India help families throughout their travel and assist families in caring for their child.
Does Holt have services for families and adoptees after adoption?
Because of the long-term and wide-ranging impact of adoption on families, Holt offers a comprehensive Post Adoption Services program.  For information on these services, see our Post Adoption Services.
Can families have direct contact with the agency in India before the adoption?
We appreciate your interest, but for many reasons this is not possible.  The government of India does not allow foreign applicants (including NRIs) to have direct and independent contact.  There is legitimate concern about how this may compromise the integrity of the process.  Also this helps ensure that you will not be solicited from overseas for donations or for fees.  The Government of India requires that agencies such as Holt have written agreements with applicants that prohibit this kind of contact.  Consequences for violation can include withdraw of recommendation or termination of services.  We encourage you to carefully read the International Adoption Service Agreement that you signed when you applied to Holt.  This is a practice that Holt observes in all countries.

When you travel to India to receive your child, you will, of course have direct contact with Holt’s partner agency in India.  After your return, all communications resume through Holt.
Can families make a donation to the agency in India?
As a matter of ethical practice, Holt does not solicit nor accept donations over $500 from families in process to adopt a child through us.  We do, however, encourage adoptive families to sponsor a child in care.  This is entirely voluntary.  Your assigned child is usually already sponsored, but you can help provide support for other children who are waiting to be placed with permanent families.  For more information see FAQ # 7 in the Finalization Chapter of your Adoption Process Guidebook.
Can people adopt even if their ages are close to the published limits for families adopting from India?
We encourage you to call us.  The requirements published in Holt Country Guidelines for Adoption are Indian national standards supplemented by limits set by local child welfare officials.  Holt’s partner agencies are accountable to these officials.  However, there may be some flexibility if you are adopting a child with special needs. 
Does a history of divorce, arrest or another factor endanger a person’s chances of adopting from India?
We understand that life is a process of growth, maturation and change.  Your social worker will understand.  Fortunately, most officials understand as well, however India officials are not flexible on any type of criminal history (DUII included) that may show up on your record. Contact the India Program Director to discuss this in depth if you have any concerns.   When you file your I-800a with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the FBI will check their records including every juvenile and adult arrest made, even if not convicted.  It is critically important that you share your full history with your local social worker as this is required under the Hague Treaty.  Your social worker will include appropriate information in the homestudy.  Conversely, information that is withheld and discovered later can cause serious problems or delays.  If in doubt, call us.
Will moving to another state interrupt an adoption?
Holt places children in all states and U.S. territories.  There are standard protocols related to moves, and we can work with you to minimize the impact of a move on your adoption.  Please consult us as soon as a move appears imminent. A home study update will be required and the US CIS- NBC will need to be informed; both of which have fees for which you will be responsible.  Conversely, an after-the-fact notice of a move can cause significant delays, inconvenience and expense.
Are “open adoptions” available from India?
Open adoption is not a current practice in India.  However, we may be able to facilitate this on an individual basis if parents are interested.
Can a family adopt two children at once?
Yes, if they are biological siblings.  We do not place unrelated children into one family at the same time as it puts families and children at unnecessary risk.
How much time must families wait between placements?
The customary practice is a year between placements and maintaining a year’s age separation between children in the home.
Can Holt assist with an adoption of a pre-identified child?
We can… on occasion.  These cases are complicated and seldom successful.  The child must meet the U.S. government’s very narrow definition of an “orphan”, Hague Treaty guidelines and due process of Indian law must be strictly observed.  Holt works only with our partner agencies in India with whom we have established working relationships.  Children cannot cross state boundaries in India for adoption processing.
Describe the range of skin color of Indian children?
In general, Indian people have complexions that ranges from “wheat” or “light wheat” (as it is termed in India for fair) to “dark brown.”  Detailed information of children’s birth parents’ racial background or ethnicity may not be known. 

Per Government of India directives, Indian agencies give preference to resident Indian parents for domestic adoption.  Domestic Indian parents often prefer to adopt children of fairer complexions.  If a domestic family cannot be identified for a child, the Indian government then gives some preference to non-resident Indian (NRI) families.

Holt partner agencies in India provide color photographs and descriptive information about children.  However, the representations and color processing can be subjective.  Adoptive parents must understand that Holt cannot guarantee a specific skin tone for a child being placed.  You and your extended family must be comfortable accepting a child of another skin color into your family.

By adopting a child from India, non-Indian parents need to accept that they are choosing transracial adoption--in effect, becoming a part-Indian family.  Parents need to be aware of and be willing to deal with attitudes of extended family, community and society.  All minority children will need help and support with race and identity issues as they pass through developmental stages of childhood and early adulthood.

If you have questions or concerns about this issue, we recommend that you talk with your extended family, close friends, members of your community and your social worker.  We also invite you to call us.

I am of Indian Origin. Are there special entitlements?
The Government of India gives first preference to domestic Indian adoptive families. Due to India's socio economic growth of the last decade, the middle class has grown and is adopting in record numbers. Of note, there are now long queues of domestic families waiting to adopt. Hence, the youngest and healthiest children are placed with domestic families. Indians residing abroad can be next considered provided one parent either retains a valid Indian passport or has obtained an OCI document. (The U.S. government requires that one adoptive parent be a U.S. citizen.)
How can I obtain more information?
Indo-Americans are requested to send an email to the India Program Assistant, Mary Ferrell (maryf@holtinternational.org) before applying. She will reply with detailed information and attachments.
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