As you may have expected, we frequently hear questions about the requirements for adoption in Missouri. The truth, though, is that the requirements for adopting a child in all states vary depending on the type of adoption you’re pursuing and the adoption professional you choose to help guide you through the process.
To help you learn about the necessary qualifications to adopt a child in Missouri, this article is split into two different sections: one that covers the requirements to adopt a child through private domestic adoption and one that covers the requirements to adopt a child through Missouri’s foster care system.
As a national adoption agency, American Adoptions has its own requirements to adopt a child that abide by laws in all states. Some of these adoption qualifications are:
Many couples wonder, “Do you have to be married to adopt in Missouri?” Marriage is not a legal requirement for adoption in Missouri. However, you must have been married for at least two years to adopt a baby through our agency.
If you’re wondering, “How old do you have to be to adopt?” the answer is that Missouri does not have an adoption age limit. However, American Adoptions requests that adoptive families be between the ages of 22–50; age requirements vary slightly based on the adoption program you are pursuing, and exceptions may be made in some cases.
Sometimes we hear, “Can a felon adopt a child?” Having a felony on your record doesn’t necessarily bar you from adopting, but it’s going to depend on the nature of your felony. If it involved the abuse or neglect of a child, domestic violence or sexual assault, it’s unlikely that you will be able to adopt. Otherwise, adoption eligibility will be determined on a case-by-case basis. The social worker who completes your home study will speak with you about the situation to understand how long ago it happened and why, as well as whether or not you learned from the mistake and what you’ve done to correct it.
These are not, however, the only requirements to adopt with American Adoptions. We also require that prospective adoptive parents:
Have moved on from infertility, if this is something that you have struggled with. Don’t rush the grieving process. If you’re still hoping to have a child biologically, this probably means you aren’t ready to pursue adoption.
Make sure both spouses are fully committed to adoption.
Understand that the adoption may bring with it many ups and downs. Such an emotional process is not an easy one for anyone involved — both birth parents and adoptive parents alike. Trust that your adoption professional will help you through these highs and lows.
The qualifications to adopt a child from Missouri’s foster care system are determined by the state, and are therefore a little different. According to Missouri foster guidelines, Missouri foster parents or adoptive parents from the foster system must:
Be 21 years of age or older
Have good physical and mental health
Have a stable income
Complete a child abuse and neglect check as well as a criminal background check
Live in a home — whether that’s an apartment, condo or house — that meets licensing standards
Complete a training and assessment process
Be willing to voice opinions and concerns
Be willing to partner with the child’s family
Missouri does not require that foster parents be married or that they have other children; you can be single and a first-time parent.
Keep in mind, though, that while the legal requirements for adopting a child from foster care may be different, the emotional ones are the same. Never rush the process if you aren’t sure that you’re ready.
For those Missouri families who are considering international adoption, the requirements to adopt will vary by country. The U.S. Department of State’s website is an excellent resource for learning the eligibility requirements for each location.
If you think you may be ready to adopt a baby, we’d love to help you. Call 1-800-ADOPTION, or request free information here. If you feel that adoption from foster care may be the route for you, contact the Children’s Division Office in your county.
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