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Is It Possible to Give an Older Child Up for Adoption?

Learn About Your Options During This Challenging Time

Because you love and care for your child, there are many reasons why you may feel that adoption is the best choice for your toddler or older child.

But can you put an older child up for adoption?

The answer is yes, adoption is always an option.

Whether you are struggling financially, feel that you cannot properly parent your child at this time, or simply want to provide your child with more than what you can currently offer, “giving your older child up” for adoption can be a positive, loving choice.

If this describes your situation, know that you are not alone, and you do have options.

American Adoptions is here to help you understand those options. As a licensed national domestic adoption agency, we have helped thousands of birth mothers find adoptive families for their babies. You can contact us at 1-800-ADOPTION to get more information on the adoption process and to speak with a professional about your specific situation.

Until then, continue reading this guide on the process to “give a child up” for adoption.

Placing an Older Child Up for Adoption

While the bulk of American Adoptions’ placements are of newborns and infants, we can work with some parents who are considering putting a toddler up to 4 years old for adoption on a case-by-case basis. 

Throughout the toddler adoption process, you will still have the same rights and choices as any mother placing a baby for adoption:

  • You can choose the adoptive parents for your child; American Adoptions works with many families who are willing and excited to adopt an older infant or toddler, and occasionally a child up to 4 years old
  • You can choose the type of relationship you want to have with your child and the adoptive parents after placement
  • You will get the unlimited, 24/7 counseling and support you need to make a fully informed adoption decision that you feel confident with
  • You are entitled to free adoption services; your legal and counseling costs will always be covered for you
  • You are in control of the adoption process

Whatever circumstances have led you to adoption, placing your toddler with a private agency like American Adoptions allows you to take control of your situation and your child’s future.

Every situation is different, and American Adoptions handles the placement of older children and toddlers on a case-by-case basis. However, if you are considering placing an older child for adoption, and that child is 4 or older, our agency may not be the best resource to help you make an adoption plan for him or her. In those cases, there are many great professionals who would be happy to provide information on how to place an older child up for adoption.

To discuss your individual circumstances and learn how to put a toddler up for adoption, you can reach an adoption professional at any time at 1-800-ADOPTION. We will help you explore all of your options and make the decision that is best for you and your child.

The Challenges of Placing and Older Child for Adoption

If you are considering “giving your older child up” for adoption, you clearly have his or her best interests at heart — and so does American Adoptions. That’s why we recognize that we may not be able to provide the services your family needs to successfully proceed with an adoption process if your child is over the age of 3 or 4.

There are several reasons why our agency may not be the best choice to help you pursue an older child adoption in this age range:

  • While we do work with many families who are open to adopting sibling groups and toddlers, most parents who are interested in adopting an older child work with the state foster system rather than a private agency. This route gives them access to more appropriate services and education about parenting children who are adopted at an older age. This means that we have fewer waiting families who are interested in adopting a school-aged or older child.
  • Placing an older child for adoption is often more complicated because there are some additional factors to take into consideration, including the child’s health and behavior, others who have had custody of the child throughout his or her life, the involvement of the child’s father, and more. American Adoptions does not currently have a process in place to review and address these factors.
  • "Giving a child up" for adoption is never easy, but it may be an even more challenging adjustment in an older child placement — not only for you as a parent, but also for your child. This process requires specialized counseling, education, and training services that our agency currently does not have the resources to provide. We recognize that it would not be fair to you, your child, or prospective adoptive parents for us to facilitate older child adoptions without providing the expertise and services you need.

However, struggling parents should never hesitate to reach out for help. While American Adoptions may not be able to complete the adoption in every case, we will do whatever we can to refer you to the services and resources you need.

When you contact an adoption professional about “giving your child up” for adoption, we will gather some background information about your circumstances, your support system, and the areas in which you’re struggling. If we feel that we are not the best professional to assist you, we will do our best to provide referrals to help you find the necessary services and resources in your community.

If we are the best professional to make an adoption plan with for your toddler, there is some paperwork and information that your social worker will ask you to provide or help them gather. This includes:

  • Your child’s birth certificate
  • Determine who is listed as the father on your child’s birth certificate
  • Your child’s medical records from birth to present
  • Documentation of everywhere the child has lived from birth to present
  • Documentation of child support (if any father has provided any)
  • Background information on who has provided financial and emotional support for your child from birth to present

Although it may be time‐consuming, this information will help move the adoption process along, so it’s important to provide accurate and up‐to‐date information.

Other Options for Placing an Older Child for Adoption

Unfortunately, many parents in your circumstances find that there is not a lot of readily available information about this type of adoption if their child is more than a few years old. There aren’t many private agencies that specialize in placing older children, and state foster care systems typically do not have the funding to take voluntary relinquishments. But there are other options if you’re asking, “Where can I put my child up for adoption?”

If you are struggling to parent and thinking about "giving up" a child for adoption, consider the following suggestions before contacting a private adoption agency:

  • Reach out to social services. While the state may not be able to take custody of your child, they can provide resources to make parenting easier. For instance, if your child has significant medical needs that you feel you cannot meet, look into your public healthcare options. If you need help finding a job or affordable housing, the state has programs that may help you. Whatever underlying issues have caused you to consider adoption for your child, there are likely free, public resources in your community to help you address them. 
  • Consider a temporary guardianship. You may be struggling now, but if you feel that you would be able to parent your child under different circumstances, you may be able to establish a legal guardianship with a close friend or family member. This option gives someone else temporary custody of your child while you make changes that would improve your situation and allow you to parent.
  • Complete a kinship adoption. If you are searching for a more permanent solution for your child and have loving family members who are willing to help, you may choose to put your kid up for adoption with a relative. A kinship placement is often beneficial for older children because it allows them to maintain important relationships with loved ones and transition to a familiar home.
  • Complete an independent adoption. Through your own networking, you may be able to find a friend or other waiting family who is willing to adopt your child. In these circumstances, you may consider working with an attorney to complete an identified or independent adoption. However, you must be very careful when placing your child with a new family; to ensure his or her safety and wellbeing, you need to contact a licensed child-placing agency in your state to complete a home study for the adoptive family. You should also always work with an attorney to ensure every step of the process is completed safely and legally.
  • Take a break. Every parent gets overwhelmed, and sometimes it just takes a day or two of alone time to reset and re-evaluate your situation. If you think this may be the case for you, ask a friend or family member if they would be willing to babysit for a day or weekend, or contact your state social services department and ask about options for respite care.

Although American Adoptions can handle the placement of toddlers and older children up to age 4 on a case‐by‐case basis, our agency specializes in newborn adoption. When “giving your older child up” for adoption, we recommend contacting your local social services department before making an adoption plan.

How to Place a Child Up for Adoption Safely and Legally

If you plan to “give an older child up” for adoption, you are likely facing difficult circumstances, and you may feel like you do not have control of your current life situation. But no matter what challenges you are facing, it is important to always keep your child’s safety and wellbeing in mind. Please remember:

  • Do not search for an adoptive family online. Some parents feel desperate to find a new situation for their children and turn to online discussion boards to find prospective adoptive parents. This is extremely dangerous and may be considered child trafficking, which is a serious crime. You must work with a licensed, regulated agency or attorney any time someone else takes custody of your child. This will not only ensure that the adoption is completed safely and legally, but it will also ensure that you and your child are getting the counseling and support you need.
  • Never abandon your child. While most states have Safe Haven laws for infants within a certain age limit, leaving your older child without making the necessary legal arrangements is considered abandonment and will result in legal repercussions.
  • Report any abuse. If you are considering adoption because you are concerned for your child’s safety in your current environment, contact a child welfare professional right away. If you or your children are in an abusive situation, these professionals can provide the services you need.

Choosing adoption for your child can be complicated, both legally and emotionally, but it can also be one of the best decisions you will ever make. If this is what you decide is best in your circumstances, it is important to find the services you need to ensure your child is placed in a safe, supportive and loving environment.

To learn more about how to place an older child up for adoption, or to discuss your other options and resources, you can reach a licensed adoption professional any time, or you can call 1-800-ADOPTION to get free guidance today.

To learn more about how to put a toddler up for adoption or to discuss your other options and resources, you can reach a licensed adoption specialist any time, or contact your state’s social services department for more information on placing an older child for adoption.

Information available through these links is the sole property of the companies and organizations listed therein. America Adoptions, Inc. provides this information as a courtesy and is in no way responsible for its content or accuracy.

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