India’s Rules on Adoption Fees and Donations
CARA is the central authority in India that regulates intercountry adoptions from India. Since 2006, CARA’s guidelines contain two specific rules about adoption fees and donations:
(1) CAP ON FEES: In intercountry adoption, an adoption fee of a fixed amount of U.S. $3,500 is payable by prospective adoptive parents to the Indian placement agency through the U.S. agency. See Section 5.17(a) of CARA’s Guidelines.
(2) NO DONATIONS: CARA’s rules are clear that no donation should be received by an Indian placement agency either from a foreign prospective adopted parent or from a foreign adoption agency. Section Section 5.17(b).
CARA’s guidelines with respect to the maximum permissible adoption fees and donations were derived from the India Supreme Court directives outlined in LK Pandey v. Union of India, 2 S.C.C. 244 (India Supreme Court 1984). The restrictions on fees and donations were formulated expressly to safeguard against the "profiteering and trafficking of children." See LK Pandey, 2 S.C.C. at 264, 270, 273. This objective also lies at the heart of the Hague Convention.
Earlier this year, CARA issued draft revised guidelines. It is expected that CARA will issue final rules effective January 1, 2008. In anticipation of the rules changing, this post records existing U.S. agency practice regarding fees and donations for India adoption programs.
U.S. Agency Practice
Set forth below is each of the U.S. agencies listed on CARA’s website that is currently licensed to place children from India that has information about its India program on its website (even if the India program is on hold). Linked to each agency name is the part of its website that discloses fees and donations for its India program (if any).
Agencies that do not publish fee information on its websites:
The following agencies do not publish information about its fees on their websites:
Children’s House International
Alliance for Children, Inc.
Hope Adoption & Family Services International, Inc.
Crossroads Adoption Services
Americans for International Aid and Adoption
Bal Jagat Children’s World Inc.
International Families Inc.
ACCEPT An Adoption and Counselling Centre
Children of the World, Inc. International Adoption and Relief Agency
The Barker Foundation
Commonwealth Adoptions International, Inc.
International Family Services
Hope Cottage, Inc.
Hope for Children
Wide Horizons for Children, Inc.
Agencies with published fee information on their websites:
The following CARA-licensed agencies contain information about fees on their websites:
Illien Adoptions International, Inc.
Children’s Home Society & Family Services
India Program Fees consist of:
Holt International Children’s Services
Bay Area Adoption Services International Adoption
Holy Cross Child Placement Agency, Inc.
Journeys of the Heart Adoption Services
Families Thru International Adoption
World Association for Children & Parents (WACAP)
Lists no separate India program fee. Instead, total costs are:
Adoptions from the Heart
Dillon International, Inc.
Children of India, Inc.
The fee information described above raises a number of questions:
Why don't all agencies list fee information on their websites? Is there a “best practices” approach for transparency of fees charged by U.S. agencies?
Of the amounts of foreign fees in excess of $3,500, how much goes to Indian orphanages contrary to CARA guidelines?
Regardless of what is listed by a U.S. agency as its international, program or foreign fee, how much does the agency actually remit to its Indian partners (for example, do agencies remit amounts that come out of its own administrative portion of agency fees)?
Why do some U.S. agencies permit and in most cases require prospective adoptive parents to pay fees and donations that are prohibited by CARA guidelines?
Why is no action taken against Indian placement agencies or U.S. agencies for routinely violating CARA’s guidelines governing fees and donations?
Are there any U.S. agencies that can publicly account for the portion of adoption fees it charges that go to India? That go to any country?