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 you are most concerned about are the requirements you have to fulfill.

Through research, you certainly have found that the adoption process is complicated, with laws 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.

The Top 10 Adoption Requirements for Adoptive Parents

requirements to adopt

Though adoption requirements vary depending on where you’re adopting from, there are some basic requirements you can count on for most adoptions. Following 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 your agency (or other adoption entity you are using).

1. What are the age requirements to adopt?

For domestic and international adoptions, the age of the prospective parents must be legal age, which is 21 years or older. In the US there is usually 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 Birth Parents select the Adoptive Family and some may have an age preference while others will not. For international adoptions, there may be age cutoffs depending on the country.

2. What are the medical health requirements to adopt?

Stable medical health is necessary for prospective Adoptive Parents. 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 they are physically stable and able to parent until the child turns at least 16 years old. Other issues, such as a history of substance abuse, may result in need for rehabilitation. All members of the household must prove that they are also physically stable.

3. What are the emotional health requirements to adopt?

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.

4. What are the child abuse clearance requirements to adopt?

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 country.

5. Will a criminal history prevent me from adopting?

A requirement of the adoption home study and 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.

6. What are the marital requirements to adopt?

For private newborn adoptions in the US, some adoption professionals may have a marriage requirement. For foster care adoption in the US, there are no marriage requirements. For international adoptions, marriage requirements will vary depending on the country.

7. What are the financial requirements to adopt?

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. You will also need to make sure you have funds available for your adoption journey for expenses such as your adoption professional’s service fees, travel and Birth Mother expenses.

8. What are the residency requirements to adopt?

Some states have residency requirements for Adoptive Parents which can range from 60 days to 1 year. Some will have exceptions for residency requirements if an Adoptive Parent is a member of the military or if they are looking to adopt a child with special needs.

9. What are the home environment requirements to adopt?

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.

10. What are the adoption and parenting education requirements to adopt?

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 Tough

The adoption process for Adoptive Parents is tough because adoption agencies, professionals, states and countries 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.

Researching Adoption by State and Country

Stringent adoption process

To learn more about domestic adoption requirements in your state, go here. You can further research adoption laws by state by clicking here. For specific requirements on adoption in another country, visit this page.

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.