New guidelines to make the adoption process quicker and transparent besides cutting down on red-tape have been notified, introducing a slew of changes, including treating non-resident Indians on a par with Indian citizens, introducing a timeframe, monitoring adoption agencies and provision of pre-adoption foster care.The women and child development ministry headed by Maneka Gandhi has brought in the guidelines as part of a notification after waiting for nearly a year for amendments to the Juvenile Justice Act to be passed in Parliament. The bill is currently under consideration of the Rajya Sabha.

Provisions introduced in clude putting the process online. A prospective parent can register online through the child adoption resource information and guidance system and check for children legally available as per age, language and other criteria. The Central Adoption Resource Authority , the no dal agency for adoption in India, has created a database of children available for adoption and has connected with adoption agencies nationwide.

With this notification, nonresident Indians will be treated as Indians in terms of priority and not as foreign nationals. At present, only 20% of children given for adoption go to NRI homes. There are an estimated 10,000 parents who would like to adopt.

The new rules have also laid down criteria for prospective parents. Couples will have to be in a stable marital relationship for at least a year to adopt and the minimum age difference between the child and either parent should not be less than 25 years. Single women can adopt children of either gender but single men will not be eligible to adopt a girl child.The maximum age of a single prospective parent is 45 years if he or she wants to adopt a child of up to fours years of age. The ministry has capped the age of the parent at 55 years for adopting a child above eight years. It has also laid down a timeframe for the process of adoption.

Stricter monitoring of adoption agencies is also on the anvil. For the first time, uniform foster care guidelines have been introduced. The guidelines provide for the option of “pre-adoption foster care” for parents who may not be mentally ready to adopt.