Whether you’re thinking about starting the adoption process or know someone else who is interested in adopting a child, the question may have crossed your mind at one point or another: Can anyone adopt a child?

The answer, as you might have guessed, is no; not just anyone can adopt. Because adoption involves the placement and wellbeing of children, there are certain requirements in place that anyone hoping to adopt must meet.

So, what exactly are those requirements? Who can and cannot adopt a child?

If you have questions about the requirements to adopt, our adoption specialists can always provide the answers you need. Call 1-800-ADOPTION or request free information online to learn more about the requirements for hopeful adoptive parents.

In the meantime, here’s what you should know about who can and cannot adopt a child.

In general, you CAN adopt if:

  • You are single or married
  • You are of any gender or sexual orientation
  • You rent or own your home
  • You do or do not have other children already
  • You meet your state’s minimum adoption requirements
  • You are approved by an adoption home study

While specific requirements vary based on where you live, adoption is possible for more people than you might think. You don’t have to be incredibly wealthy, have prior parenting experience or be in perfect health in order to adopt. Your sexual orientation, marital status and income should not automatically disqualify you from adopting a child, either.

However, some states do require married couples to adopt jointly, and you may have to meet minimum residency and age requirements to be eligible to adopt. You will also have to meet the adoption requirements set by your adoption professional (you can read about the requirements to join one of American Adoptions’ programs here). If you are pursuing an international adoption, you will also have to meet the eligibility requirements of the country from which you adopt.

If you meet these basic adoption requirements, you’re off to a good start, but you will also need to complete an adoption home study. The home study determines whether prospective parents are ready to adopt by evaluating their:

  • Physical and mental health (you do not need to be in perfect health to adopt, but you must be able to meet the demands of parenting)
  • Financial stability (you do not need to be “wealthy,” but you do need to be able to meet your family’s needs)
  • Criminal history (you will need to complete standard background screenings, but an imperfect record won’t automatically disqualify you from adopting)
  • Emotional preparedness for adoption (you will need to have fully grieved any losses due to infertility and be ready to fully embrace adoption)
  • And more

The adoption home study and other adoption requirements can seem overwhelming at first, but your adoption specialist can help you prepare. Once you’ve successfully completed the home study and screening process, you can officially adopt a child!

On the other hand, you likely CANNOT adopt if you do not meet your state’s eligibility requirements or you were convicted of a serious crime involving child abuse, neglect, domestic violence, child pornography, sexual assault or something similar. However, most other criminal offenses will not automatically exclude you from adopting; your home study worker will consider a variety of factors when evaluating your criminal history and you may be approved to adopt on a case-by-case basis.

Adoption laws and requirements are updated somewhat regularly, so you should always check with an adoption specialist or a local attorney for the most up-to-date information about adoption eligibility in your state. To learn more about current adoption requirements and whether you might be able to adopt, call American Adoptions at 1-800-ADOPTION.