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Requirements to Adopt a Child

Can I Adopt with American Adoptions?

Parenting, no matter how you get there, is an immense responsibility. It’s also a joy, to be sure. But the weight of it — shaping a child’s life, providing safety and comfort, creating opportunity — is weighty. It makes sense, with this level of responsibility in mind, that there would be some requirements to adopt a child.

If you are considering adoption, one of your first steps is learning about these requirements. They may be different depending on where you live, which agency you work with and which type of adoption you are pursuing. This guide to adoption requirements will help you figure it all out.

As a national adoption agency, American Adoptions adheres to each state’s private domestic adoption laws and requirements. Like most agencies, we also have our own specific requirements. That may sound strict, but here’s the truth: adoption requirements are important to make sure that everyone, birth mother, adoptive family and child, only end up in the best situations.

Each state has its own unique laws and adoption requirements. Our database on adoption information for each state can help you learn more about your specific state laws. It’s also a good idea to speak with an adoption specialist about your state’s laws, as these laws are always subject to change.

First, let’s look at some of the questions we are commonly asked about the requirements to adopt a child through our agency.

What are the requirements for adopting a child?

Adoption requirements are going to change based on where you live, the type of adoption you choose and your adoption agency. The best way to find out about adoption requirements is on a case by case basis. However, there are some requirements that are consistent across the board.

Do I have to be married to adopt a child?

Like other domestic adoption requirements, the marriage requirements for adopting a child depend on where you live and which agency you choose to adopt through. For example, American Adoptions is currently able to work with couples who have been married a minimum of two years. If you do not meet our marriage adoption requirements, but still wish to join our agency, please contact us to inquire about our exception process.

Some states require married couples to be married for 2-3 years before they are eligible to jointly adopt a child.

How old do you have to be to adopt?

Age requirements for adoption differ significantly based on the state you are in.

According to the most recent documentation from the Child Welfare Information Gateway, the requirements for age can vary significantly. Seven states only require the adoptive parents to be 18 years old. Three states (Colorado, Delaware and Oklahoma) set the age requirement at 21. Two states (Georgia and Idaho) have set the bar at 25. In other parts of the country, the requirement is simply that adoptive parents be at least 10 years older than the child they are going to adopt.

Many states do not specify a minimum age to be eligible to adopt. Seem confusing? It can be. That’s why you should check with an adoption professional about the age requirements for adoption in your state and the age requirements of the agency you want to work with, as most agencies do set their own age expectations for adoptive parents.

How old is too old to adopt?

There are very few state laws with adoptive parent requirements that disallow older people of a specific age from adopting a child.

However, during the adoption home study, your physical and mental health will be evaluated to ensure you are healthy enough to raise a child. At American Adoptions, we set our upper age limit for adoption at 50.

I was convicted of a felony in the past — am I unable to adopt a child?

Many people wonder if having a criminal record makes you unable to meet the qualifications for adoption.

If you were convicted of a felony, it doesn’t necessarily mean you cannot adopt. Your home study social worker will speak with you about the felony, when and why it happened, what you learned from that event, and how you’ve taken steps to correct any past mistakes.

Whether you are deemed eligible to adopt largely relies on the nature of the felony. If the felony involved child abuse or neglect, domestic violence, child pornography or sexual assault, it is highly unlikely that your home study will be approved and that you will be eligible to adopt a child.

What qualification do you need to adopt a child from foster care?

Your state’s private adoption requirements are likely similar for foster care adoption, but there may be some minor differences. For example, in Nevada you must be 21 years or older to foster parent a child. However, to adopt the child, you also have to be 10 years older than the child.

Can same-sex couples and LGBTQ single parents adopt a child?

As long as they meet their state’s other requirements to be an adoptive parent, LGBTQ couples and individuals can adopt in all 50 states. Legally, your sexuality is not a factor for adoption criteria in the U.S.

However, some states are actively advancing legislation that makes it easier for individual organizations to discriminate on the basis of sexuality. That means that while according to the law you can adopt, a private organization could still refuse to serve you.

Make sure to check with any adoption professional before you begin working with them. You deserve the full support of your agency during this process. American Adoptions is proud to work with many LGTBQ couples in the adoption process.

Adoption Requirements by State for a Private Domestic Adoption:

State Requirements

Age Requirements

LGBT Restrictions

Residence Requirements

Alabama Requirements

Adult

None

None

Alaska Requirements

Must be an adult for single parent adoption

None

None

Arizona Requirements

Adult

None

Must be a resident of Arizona

Arkansas Requirements

Must be an adult for single parent adoption

None

None

California Requirements

Must be an adult and 10 years older than adoptee

None

None

Colorado Requirements

Must be at least 21 years old

None

None

Connecticut Requirements

None

None

None

Delaware Requirements

Must be at least 21 years old

None

Must be a resident of Delaware

District of Columbia Requirements

None

None

None

Florida Requirements

Must be an adult for single parent adoption

None

None

Georgia Requirements

Must be at least 25 years old and at least 10 years older than adoptee

None

Must be a Georgia resident for 6 months

Hawaii Requirements

Must be an adult for single parent adoption

None

None

Idaho Requirements

Must be at least 25 years old or at least 15 years older than adoptee

None

None

Illinois Requirements

Adult

None

Must be an Illinois resident of 6 months

Indiana Requirements

None

None

Must be a resident; exceptions apply

Iowa Requirements

Must be an adult for single parent adoption

None

None

Kansas Requirements

Adult

None

None

Kentucky Requirements

Must be at least 18 years old, or…

None

… a resident of Kentucky of at least 12 months

Louisiana Requirements

Must be at least 18 years old to adopt as a single parent

None

None

Maine Requirements

None

None

None

Maryland Requirements

Adult

None

None

Massachusetts Requirements

Adult

None

None

Michigan Requirements

None

None

None

Minnesota Requirements

None

None

Must be a Minnesota resident of 12 months

Mississippi Requirements

Must be an adult for single parent adoption

None

Must be a Mississippi resident of 6 months

Missouri Requirements

None

None

None

Montana Requirements

Must be at least 18 years old to adopt as a single parent

None

None

Nebraska Requirements

Adult

None

None

Nevada Requirements

Must be an adult and at least 10 years older than adoptee

None

None

New Hampshire Requirements

Must be an adult for single parent adoption

None

None

New Jersey Requirements

Must be at least 18 years old and 10 years older than adoptee

None

None

New Mexico Requirements

None

None

Must be a resident; exceptions apply

New York Requirements

Must be an adult (at least 18 years old)

None

None

North Carolina Requirements

Adult

None

None

North Dakota Requirements

Must be an adult for single parent adoption

None

None

Ohio Requirements

Must be an adult for single parent adoption

None

None

Oklahoma Requirements

Must be at least 21 years old to adopt jointly or as a single parent

None

None

Oregon Requirements

None

None

Must be an Oregon resident of 6 months

Pennsylvania Requirements

None

None

None

Rhode Island Requirements

Adult

None

None

South Carolina Requirements

None

None

Must be a resident; exceptions apply

South Dakota Requirements

Must be at least 10 years older than adoptee

None

None

Tennessee Requirements

Must be at least 18 years old

None

Must be a Tennessee resident of 6 months

Texas Requirements

Adult

None

None

Utah Requirements

Must be an adult and 10 years older than adoptee

None

None. Unmarried cohabiting couples cannot adopt.

Vermont Requirements

None

None

None

Virginia Requirements

None

None

None

Washington Requirements

Must be at least 18 years old

None

None

West Virginia Requirements

None

None

None

Wisconsin Requirements

Must be an adult for single parent adoption

None

None

Wyoming Requirements

 

Adult

 

None

 

Must be a Wyoming resident of 60 days

Credit: Child Welfare Information Gateway. This chart is a brief overview of the adoption requirements by the laws of each state and American Adoptions is not responsible for any inaccuracies or legal consequences based on information in this article. 

For updated state adoption requirements, contact a local adoption attorney or American Adoptions today at 1-800-ADOPTION, or request free adoption information.

Disclaimer
Information available through these links is the sole property of the companies and organizations listed therein. America Adoptions, Inc. provides this information as a courtesy and is in no way responsible for its content or accuracy.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Do we need to retain our own attorney?

No, American Adoptions has established relationships with some of the best adoption attorneys in the nation. Because adoption laws vary from state to state and between counties, it is important to utilize the services of an adoption attorney who specializes in the state where the adoption will finalize, which is unknown until you match with an expectant mother. You have the right to retain your own attorney, but doing so may be an additional, unnecessary expense.

Can we choose the gender of our baby?

American Adoptions accepts a limited number of families into our gender-specific program. Please contact us at 1-800-ADOPTION to learn whether we are currently accepting families into this program. With this option, families pay an additional Gender-Specific Fee to help our agency locate and work with birth mothers meeting this additional criterion. This fee is in addition to other program fees and covers additional advertising. The fee is not considered part of your adoption budget. Please note that gender specificity will likely increase your wait time significantly.

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