So you’ve decided to adopt a child, but you know you’re only at the beginning of what is sure to be a long and difficult process. Of course, the adoption process has its ups and downs, but what’re you’re most concerned about are the requirements you have to fulfill.
Through research, you certainly have found that the adoption process comes with many stipulations, including many that vary by state and type of adoption. Understanding the requirements of an adoption will make things run a bit more smoothly when it comes time to officially start the adoption process. The following adoption requirements for adoptive parents should help you navigate the rest of the process as you go along.
Basic Requirements of Adoption
Though adoption requirements vary depending upon where you’re adopting from, there are some basic requirements you can count on for most adoptions. Adhering to these requirements can set the stage for the rest of your adoption journey, making it incredibly important that you follow each of the rules carefully and comply with all requests from the agency (or other adoption entity you are using). These basic requirements include:
- For domestic and international adoptions, the age of the prospective parents must be legal age, which is 21 years or older. There is also no age cutoff, meaning you can adopt as long as you are 21 or over. Typically for private and independent adoptions, the Birth Mother or parents select the adoptive home, which means their may be an age cut off if the mother so desires. Usually, 40 is the cutoff age, but it is subjective depending upon the preference of the Birth Parents. For international adoptions, age cutoffs depend upon the agency and country you are adopting from. In some counties, older parents are offered older children rather than infants and toddlers.
- Medical Health: Stable medical condition is necessary for prospective Adoptive Parents because it can determine whether or not adoption disruption is likely. If one or both of the parents have a history of a chronic illness or are currently experiencing a serious illness, a letter from their primary physician is needed stating that their physical stability, ability to parent, and expectation to live to a child’s majority (16 years old). Other issues, such as a history of substance abuse, may result in need for rehabilitation, and all other members of the household must prove that they are also physically stable.
- Emotional Health: Stable emotional health is incredibly important for prospective Adoptive Parents. If one or both parents have a current psychiatric illness, or if there is a history of such an illness, a professional statement vouching for their emotional stability is required. A doctor’s statement indicating stability and ability to parent is also needed if there is, or was, medication use. All additional household members must also be emotionally stable in order for the home to be considered safe for the adoptive child.
- Child Abuse History: Any household members over the age of 18 must undergo a child abuse clearance process for every U.S. state. If anything is found, it most likely will prevent adoption all together. For international adoption, the process is the same, but varies with each agency.
- Criminal History: A requirement of the adoption home study, both state and FBI clearances will be conducted for criminal history. If an arrest history is found, you will need to provide personal statements of the incident as well as dispositions. Rehabilitation will then be evaluated if needed. In some cases, certain criminal charges may prevent adoption all together.
- Marital History: Requirements vary for marriage history by adoption Agency and U.S. state, so it is best to check the specific requirements where you live. In some states, samesex partners, domestic partners, and singles may also be able to adopt.
- Financial Security: Though an income requirement is not usually specified, you will have to undergo an assessment to prove that you have the resources necessary to raise a child. The assessment will look over your income and assets, as well as proof of medical insurance.
- Home Environment: A home study will determine whether or not the home is a safe, secure place for a child to live. Requirements may vary depending upon each state’s own safety requirements and some countries may request proof of ownership of the home.
- Adoption and Parenting Education: Education: Some agencies will ask prospective parents to complete Adoptive Parent Education. This includes going over everything from the lifelong implications of adoption on the child and family, bonding and attachment, sharing adoption with the child and others, open or closed adoption, medical issues, academic issues, and emotional and developmental issues.
Why the Adoption Process is So Stringent
The adoption process for adoptive parents can be incredibly stringent because agencies want to ensure that the child is going to a safe place. The child’s safety and wellbeing are of the utmost importance, making the extra requirements incredibly necessary. If you fail to comply with one or more of these requirements, you may lose your eligibility to adopt in your state or elsewhere.
Variations: Researching Adoption By State and Country
To learn more about domestic adoption requirements in your state, go here, here, or here. For specific requirements in a certain country, visit here and select Learn About a Country.
Adoption requirements can be a lot, but they are needed to ensure a happy, healthy, and safe life for an adopted child. Most agencies and adoption professionals will help you as you move through these requirements, so knowing what to expect can make things a little easier.