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Can You Put a 4-Year-Old Up for Adoption?

Finding Resources to Help in Your Situation

There are plenty of reasons you might be wondering, “Can you put a 4-year-old up for adoption?” The answer to that question can be complicated.

We understand that there may be financial pressure in your life that makes parenting seem impossible, or a lack of support from the child’s father that has made things very difficult. The amount of anxiety, frustration or fear you might be feeling is immense. The first thing you should know is that there is help available.

As you consider how to put a child up for adoption at 4 years old, we also want you to be aware of the resources within your reach that could make staying together as a family possible.

Adoption can be very difficult. While it can be the best option for some families, looking to adopt a 4-year-old comes with unique challenges.

While we hope the information in this guide on how to put a child up for adoption at 4 years old is helpful, one of the best things you can do is speak with a professional about your situation. That could be a local counselor or pastor, or you could reach out to an adoption specialist through our free info form at any time. Our adoption specialists will help you understand all of the paths you can take, not just adoption.

How Do I Put My 4-Year-Old Child Up for Adoption?

Creating an adoption plan for a 4-year-old child can be difficult. 

  • Most private domestic adoption agencies are not equipped for this type of adoption for various reasons, including a much smaller number of families looking to adopt a 4-year-old.
  • Most private domestic adoption agencies, including American Adoptions, primarily work with newborns, and as such can only work with toddlers up to 4 years old on a very limited case‐by‐case basis.
  • As you are considering how to put a child up for adoption at 4 years old, the most viable organization to reach out to will be your local department of child and family services.

With that being said, it must be understood that you typically cannot voluntarily place a child into the foster care system. Rather, your local social service workers will be able to help you figure out a plan that meets both your needs and your child’s needs.

Unique Challenges of Putting a Child Up for Adoption at 4 Years Old

As a mother considering how to put a child up for adoption at 4 years old, we know you want what is best for your child. This decision comes from a place of love. Because of that, it’s important to understand how difficult an adoption transition can be for a 4-year-old.

At 4 years old, your child has developed patterns and attachments that will make adoption very hard to handle. Even if life has seemed chaotic and difficult, this is still true.

Not only has your child formed attachments, but you have, as well. Every situation is unique, and your life is undoubtedly full of challenges that few others can relate to. In the midst of how hard parenting seems, don’t overlook the relationship you have formed with your child. Breaking this relationship can result in emotional challenges you may not be expecting, even when adoption might be the best possible way forward.

In addition to these challenges, you should also know that placing a 4-year-old for adoption requires some additional information on your child’s life up until now. Some of the documents and information your adoption specialist will ask you to provide includes:

  • Your child’s birth certificate
  • Who is listed as the father on your child’s birth certificate
  • Your child’s medical records
  • Documentation of where the child has lived from birth to present
  • Who has had custody or care of your child from birth to present
  • Who has provided financial and emotional support for the child from birth to present
  • Documentation of child support provided by any father

It can be frustrating and time-consuming to meet these additional requirements, but they will be necessary before you can move forward with any adoption plan for your child.

Resources to Help Make Parenting Possible

Because of these and other challenges in placing a 4-year-old for adoption, this is not the best path forward in most cases. Instead, struggling parents should explore all of the alternatives and resources available to them.

There are resources available for any mother thinking about how to put a child up for adoption at 4 years old. The type and amount of help available can vary based on where you are. Some things to look for are:

  • Social Service Resources: As we mentioned above, the state may not be able to take custody of your child. However, when you are thinking about how to put a child up for adoption at 4 years old, your local social services can provide resources to help make parenting less stressful. These resources can range from medical help to job programs, and they can be very beneficial.
  • Women, Infants, and Children (WIC): WIC is a nutrition program maintained by the federal government. There are strict qualifications for the program, but children are eligible up to age 5. The supplemental nutrition supplied by this program can make a big difference for you and your child.
  • Medicaid: The medical expenses of parenting could be the primary factor in wondering how to put a child up for adoption at 4 years old. Medicaid is a medical assistance program for low-income families. Eligibility differs on a state-by-state basis.
  • Assistance with Special Needs: There are a variety of programs available to assist families and children who have special needs. These programs range from medical assistance to supplemental income.
  • Head Start: Early childhood education has been proven to make a significant impact on a child’s development. Head Start is a program that helps provide access to preschool for children under the age of 5. There may be Head Start programs in your community.

While some private adoption agencies, like American Adoptions, can work with toddlers up to 4 years old on a case‐by‐case basis, we might not be the best agency to work with when it comes to older child adoptions. We encourage you to instead reach out to the resources listed above first.

However, if you have exhausted all of the parenting help that is available to you, and you still feel like you are not in a position to raise your child, there may be other alternatives available: temporary guardianship and kinship adoption.

Kinship Adoption and Temporary Legal Guardianship

If parenting is still an unrealistic option after seeking out some of the resources above, two of your best options for how to put a child up for adoption at 4 years old could be kinship adoption or temporary legal guardianship.

  • Kinship adoption means having a family member permanently adopt your child. You may have someone in your family with a more stable living situation who can provide a safe, loving home for your child. This option allows you to do what is best for your life while maintaining a connection with your child, as well as creating a less difficult (although still challenging) transition.
  • Temporary legal guardianship, on the other hand, would be another path worth considering when you are wondering if you can put a 4-year-old up for adoption. With this option, a close friend or family member assumes legal responsibility of your child for a period of time while you work to create a better situation when you can resume guardianship of your child.

In both cases, it can be good to speak with an adoption agency or adoption attorney about how to put a child up for adoption at 4 years old.

Speak With a Professional About How to Put a Child Up for Adoption at 4 Years Old

Speaking with a professional is a great next step in this difficult decision-making process. You can fill out our free information form at any time to request to speak to an adoption specialist.

Although American Adoptions can only handle adoptions for 4-year-olds on a limited, case‐by‐case basis, we would still be glad to help you understand all of the options you have to choose from.




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

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Frequently Asked Questions

Why is American Adoptions the right adoption agency choice for many birth mothers?

American Adoptions is one of the largest licensed adoption agencies in the United States. Each year, we work with thousands of women who are facing an unplanned pregnancy and offer assistance to these women. Our large, caring staff is able to assist you seven days a week and provide you with one-on-one counseling about your pregnancy and available options.

You should choose an adoption agency where you feel completely comfortable with their services and staff. With American Adoptions, you will work with an Adoption Specialist who is on-call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The Adoption Specialist will be your advocate and will provide support and guidance as you create an adoption plan that is right for you.

How will the family tell my child about me and the adoption when my child is older?

Each family has their own style of introducing adoption to the child. When you are matched with an adoptive family, you can ask them this question. If you would like your Adoption Specialist to discuss it for you, just let her know. He or she can share your wishes or provide good ideas from other adoptive families.

You will also be able to share what you want your baby to know about you. You can complete a keepsake booklet to share hobbies, stories, photos of you and your family and a letter to your baby. The adoptive family can provide this to your child as he or she grows older. Be as creative as you like! Some birth mothers have even knitted a special blanket as a gift to their baby or given a similar symbol of their love.

The father of your baby can fill out the birth father's keepsake booklet or write a letter too. You may have other family members who would also like to share photos or a letter to the baby. This is your opportunity to pass on your and your family's love and to share your personality, history and reasons for choosing adoption. The adoptive family will treasure whatever information you provide and will share it with the baby at an appropriate age. In most adoptive homes, the word adoption is in the child's vocabulary early on, and adoption is celebrated in their lives.

Additional Resources

Teen Pregnancy - Information for Young Women

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