Singles adopt children every day. In a private adoption, the birth parent typically chooses the adopting parent. In foster care, the local child welfare organization chooses the family. For an international adoption, the country sets its own regulations regarding single parents.

Domestic partners need to determine, with a local attorney or adoption agency, if they will be considered a “couple” or “single parent” when they choose to adopt a baby. Their Home Study will need to reflect the status that they choose.

Anyone who wants to adopt a child, must meet state and, if appropriate, federal and country requirements. If you choose to work with an adoption agency to adopt a baby, you need to meet their requirements, as well.

How Old do I Need to be to Adopt a Child?

A prospective adoptive parent must be of legal age (21 years old) at the time of the initial application.

Do I need to be Physically Healthy?

A prospective adoptive parent must be physically stable in order to adopt a baby. If there is a current issue or a history of medical illness, a physician’s letter and indication that the parent is recommended will be required.

What about Substance Abuse Issues?

If there is a history of drug or alcohol abuse, proof of rehabilitation will be needed.

Do I need Proof of Mental Health?

Current or past therapy will not prevent you from adopting a child. However, you will need a letter from the treating counselor indicating the reason for treatment, duration, progress and a recommendation to parent through adoption.

What if I’m on Psychiatric medication?

Current or past use of medication will need to be explained by the prospective adopting parent, as well as by the prescribing doctor. The reason for the medication, effect on treating the symptoms and current use needs to be outlined. The doctor will also be asked to indicate if there is any reason that the individual should not be approved to adopt or parent.

What if I have a Criminal History?

All arrests, whether resulting in a conviction or a dismissal need to be discussed before you can adopt a baby. If an arrest exists, dispositions and statements from the prospective adoptive parent will be reviewed. All household members over 18 years of age need criminal clearances. There are criminal charges that can prevent someone from adopting a child, or living in the home with an adopted child.

Do I need a Child Abuse Clearance?

All household members over 18 years of age, will need child abuse clearances. Depending on where you live and where you are adopting, clearances can go back as far as the age of 18 and include any US state or country in which a person resides.

Household relationships

While each state and country has their own requirements for who can adopt, the relationships in the home will need to be detailed.

What About my Home and Neighborhood?

You need to live in a safe, well maintained home in a neighborhood conducive to family life in order to adopt a child. States differ on the need to have a separate bedroom for an adopted child.

Do I need to be Financially stable?

While there is no specific dollar amount that you need to make to adopt a baby, a prospective adoptive parent needs to demonstrate they can “afford” to raise a child. They must have a steady source of income or substantial savings/ investments. They must also be able to provide medical insurance for the child.

Do I need to Assign a Guardian for the Child?

Single parents are asked to name a guardian who would step in as the parent should the adoptive parent be unable to continue to fulfill that responsibility. Some adoption agencies also require the naming of the guardian in a will.

Do I Need References?

The prospective adoptive parent needs to provide references regarding their interpersonal relationships and interactions with children. The references can be singles or couples. Some adoption agencies allow references from family members.

Adoption and parenting

During the adoption homestudy and any agency applications, you will be asked to discuss your adoption and parenting plan. This will include how you will meet the child’s needs and for single parents, who will assume the other gender role model position.

Additional state domestic adoption information can be found at www.adoptuskids.org or http://statelaws.findlaw.com/family-laws/adoption.html.