Requirements to Adopt a Child

Find out if you'd be able to adopt a child, and learn how to search for adoption requirements by state.
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Adoptive parents may be married or single, childless or already parenting other children. Having a disability does not automatically disqualify you from adopting a child; rather, agencies will want to ensure that you can care for a child and meet his or her needs throughout his or her childhood.

Divorce or a history of marital or personal counseling does not automatically eliminate you as a candidate. You are not required to own your own home or to have a high income in order to give children what they need: permanence, stability, a lifetime commitment, and a chance to be part of a family.

Children do not need "perfect" parents — they need one or more caring and committed individuals willing to meet their needs and to incorporate them into a nurturing family environment.

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Single-Parent Adoption

Increasing numbers of agencies and some foreign countries are now placing children with single applicants. Follow-up research studies of successful single-parent adoptions have shown single adoptive parents as mature, independent, and having a wide and supportive network of family and friends. In fact, single adoptive parents are often the placement of choice for children who have trouble dealing with two parents due to a history of abuse or neglect.

For many infant adoptions in the United States, however, agency criteria for applicants are more restrictive. Often agencies will only consider couples married at least one to three years, between the ages of 25 and 40, and with stable employment income. Some agencies accept applicants who are older than 40. Some agencies require that the couple have no other children and be unable to bear children. Some agencies require that one parent not work outside the home for at least six months after the adoption.

Agencies placing infants will discuss their specific eligibility regulations and placement options with you.

READ MORESingle Parent Adoption: How to Start a Family Solo

Same-Sex Couple Adoption

While adoption for same-sex couples is legal in all 50 states, requirements differ by state. According to a report by the Child Welfare Information Gateway, the statutory laws in most states are largely silent on the issue of adoption by gay and lesbian persons as single persons. In approximately 19 States, the District of Columbia, and the Virgin Islands, the use of gender-neutral language, including “spouses” or “married couples,” serves to allow adoption by same-sex couples.

READ MOREGay Adoption: How to Start the Process

Adoption Requirements by State

Wondering what the adoption laws are in your state?

Child Welfare Information Gateway makes it easy to find information in their State Statutes database. Simply select your state and the topic you'd like to learn more about to get the rundown of laws in your area.

Search State Adoption Requirements

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