According to UNICEF, children worldwide lose their parents in conflict, or due to poverty, disability, HIV/AIDS. Hence there is a large population of children that grow up without one or both of their parents. Children without parental care are at a high risk of abuse, exploitation and neglect. Large numbers of children end up in institutional care. Inadequate individual care of institutions can socially and emotional impair children. About 1.5 million children in the Central and Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States live in public care institutions. In Europe and Central Asia, over 1 million children live in residential institutions. In 2003 there were an estimated 143 million orphans in 93 countries of sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, and Latin America and the Caribbean. Asia has the highest number of orphans due to all causes, with 87.6 million children.
Children may be destitute, for the interim or permanently of parental care for many reasons including the illness, death or imprisonment of parents, separation due to migration or armed conflict, the removal by child welfare authorities and/or the courts based on the child's best interests, detention of the child, or following the child's own initiative to leave home.
In India the child parent relationship is often seen as one of obedience of a social order more so than a right of the child. Hence when a child is separated from his/her parent it is not viewed as the duty of the state to provide that child with a family environment. None the less adoption is supervised by the state, but India does not have a long term foster care or alternate care system outside of institutionalisation.
UNICEF estimates that there are 25 million orphaned children in India in 2007. Another study estimates there are about 44 million destitute children and over 12 million orphan and abandoned children in India, yet there are only 5000 (0.04%) adoptions every year. The institutions for children in conflict with the law host about 40,000 children. The wide gap that exists in the knowledge of and attitude towards child adoption and intention to adopt a child between people from different socio-economic backgrounds exposes the need of the state to initiate promotion of child adoption and creating a system of non-institutional care for children above the adoption age.
Adoption in India comes under the provisions of three acts and is carried out centrally by CARA