As you get excited about adoption, learning the requirements of adoption can be a big step toward your goal.

Eligibility for adoption depends on state laws, federal laws and agency policy. We can help you determine eligibility when you fill out our free online form here. You can also read below about the requirements to become an adoptive parent.

1. Age

Age requirements are one of the simplest requirements to verify. Although age requirements vary from state to state, the common mandate is that adoptive parents are 18, 21 or 25 years old, or that they are 10-15 years older than the adoptee.

There are few legal limits on age for adoption, but older couples may run into concerns about health and life expectancy if they are significantly older. That’s because many birth mothers want to place children with parents who will be alive well into their child’s adulthood. At American Adoptions, we work with couples 25-50 years old. Learn more about age requirements here.

2. Citizenship and Residence

Some federal and state regulations place restrictions on parents based on citizenship and residence. For us, we work with couples if at least one parent is a United States citizen.

Some states also require adoptive families to live in that state. No matter what your state’s requirements are, we’ll help you navigate them as you begin your adoption journey.

3. Marital Status

Marriage requirements for adoption also vary by state and agency, with some states requiring that couples be married two to three years before they can adopt.

We work with couples who have been married for a minimum of two years, but some exceptions are possible. Contact us and we can help you determine eligibility.

4. Background Checks

One of the biggest priorities for a child is safety, which is why we run background checks on each adoptive parent.

Still, if you have a criminal record, it doesn’t always disqualify you from being an adoptive parent. As a part of the home study process, a social worker will discuss anything that appears on your criminal record with you. You can have a chance to discuss when and why it happened, what you learned and any changes you’ve made in your life to correct your mistakes.

Although not all crimes or felonies will disqualify you from adoption, in the event that your criminal record includes child abuse, neglect, domestic violence, child pornography or sexual assault, it is highly unlikely that you’ll be eligible to adopt.

5. Finance

It’s a common misconception that you need to be rich to adopt. The adoption process costs money, but you don’t need to be a millionaire. As long as you can show that you have the financial means to support yourself and a child, adoption can still be in your future.

When it comes to the cost of adoption itself, you can also think strategically about affording adoption. Learn more about affording adoption.

6. Housing

To be eligible to adopt, you’ll need to show that you have a safe home for a child. Designating a spot where you’ll put a bassinet, as well as assuring safety from basic things like electrical hazards and tipping furniture, means that you are a step closer to being approved as an adoptive parent.

7. Interviews and Home Visit

The biggest requirement of adoption is completing the home study. In the home study process, you will submit paperwork and talk to a social worker, who will visit your home. Your conversation with the social worker will cover a broad range of topics relevant to parenthood and adoption, such as your parenting philosophy, reasons for choosing adoption and more.

This will also give the social worker a chance to identify anything you need before you adopt. For instance, a social worker can help point out safety hazards that you may have missed and connect you with resources to learn more about being an adoptive parent.  Click here to get in touch with us now, and we’ll walk you through the first steps.