Whether a person may adopt depends on the state in which the prospective adoptive parent resides. State laws and rules of agencies located therein govern adoption. Below are some factors that determine how easily a person will be able to adopt:
Age: The minimum age to adopt a child in most states is 18, the age at which a person is an adult. Although no age limit exists for prospective adoptive parents, most agencies hesitate to allow couples over the age of 50 to adopt young children.
Marital Status: Married couples have more success adopting than single parents. Some agencies require that a couple be married a minimum number of years, usually two.
Criminal History: A history of criminal offenses could be detrimental to a person’s ability to adopt. A prospective adoptive parent who has a history of domestic or child abuse or who has been convicted of a felony most likely will not be qualified to adopt. However, most agencies and birth mothers are willing to look past misdemeanors, especially if they occurred a long time ago.
Health: Prospective adoptive parents who are in good health are more likely to be successful when adopting than those suffering from physical or mental illnesses. A person who abuses drugs or alcohol also might have difficultly adopting. Medical records are collected during the home-study process to search for this type of behavior.
Disability: A physical or mental disability, depending on the circumstances, could hinder a person’s ability to adopt.
Religion: Some adoption agencies are religiously affiliated and therefore give preference to prospective adoptive parents who practice a certain religion.
Finances: Adoption can be an expensive process. Although wealth is not required, a person must demonstrate financial stability to adopt.
Sexual Orientation: Many states allow individual gay and lesbian persons to adopt. However, these states do not necessarily allow the partner of a gay or lesbian person to petition for a second-parent adoption of that child. The laws of a particular state are a determinative factor of whether agencies of that state will consider gay individuals or same-sex couples for adoption.
Last updated: Sept. 26, 2008