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“What does adoption mean to a child?”

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Putting a Child Up for Adoption At Any Age

Age Requirements for Placing a Child for Adoption

Choosing adoption is not an exclusive right for certain types of mothers. Every adoption is unique, and all kinds of people choose adoption. If you’re trying to decide whether adoption might be an option for you, you may be wondering, can you put a child up for adoption at any age?

If you are considering adoption for an older child, you may be wondering if there is a maximum age to put a child up for adoption, or if there are age requirements for giving your child up for adoption.

These are difficult questions to ask, and you are probably facing challenging circumstances. First off, it’s important to know that it is okay to consider adoption. Whether or not adoption is a viable option for you will depend on your unique circumstances.

Like we said, every adoption is unique. This means there isn’t one, single answer that will apply to every circumstance. Your ability to place an older child for adoption will come down to the specific details of your situation. In some situations, you can place older children for adoption. Other times, there may be an age limit to “give up” for adoption.

We’ll work through several scenarios and provide you with information to help you understand your options. Regardless of if you can give a child up for adoption at any age, there are professionals and services to support you. Many mothers have gone through something similar, and you can make something beautiful out of this hard time.  

Can You “Give Your Child Up” for Adoption at Any Age?

Adoption can be a brave and selfless decision. As a mother, we know you want what is best for your child. Even though it’s common to hear the phrase “give a child up for adoption,” this decision is anything but giving up, no matter how old your child may be. You should always feel supported to make the best decision possible for your life, which is a choice only you are qualified to make.

When you are considering adoption, especially adoption with older children, the choices available to you will differ depending on age. Anyone can put their baby up for adoption, but the specifics of your situation may determine a different outcome. 

What Age Can You Put Your Child Up for Adoption?

There are always options for you when parenting seems impossible. To get a clearer picture of those options, we will break them down by your child’s age.

Adoption for Newborns to 6-Month‐Olds

While many women consider adoption early on in their pregnancy, it’s not uncommon for women to consider adoption for their babies right after they’re born or even up to six months later. Typically, a 6‐month‐old adoption and a newborn adoption are very similar in terms of the steps you’ll need to take. This age group also represents the vast majority of placements that private adoption agencies, like American Adoptions, handle every year, making it even easier to find the right resources and services you need to make an adoption plan.

At this age, there are still plenty of adoptive parents to choose from, and you are still eligible for many of the same services as a woman who chose adoption early on in her pregnancy. Whether your baby is days, weeks or even 6 months old, it’s never too late to place your child for adoption.

Adoption at Ages 6 Months to 4 Years

Placing older infants and toddlers for adoption, even after they have been home from the hospital for several months or even a few years is still an option. In these situations, there are many adoption professionals and many hopeful adoptive parents who would be happy to help, including those at American Adoptions. Our agency specializes in placing newborns and infants for adoption, but we have also assisted mothers placing toddlers and young children, up to preschool age, on a case-by-case basis. However, even within this age range, there are differences that come with age.

One of the most notable differences between placing a newborn for adoption versus a toddler is the type of information your adoption specialist will need before you can proceed. If your child is 6 months old or older, this information will include:

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

In addition to these added logistical complications, there may be additional emotional complications — both for you and your child — to take into account in this age range. A child develops more by age 4 than you may imagine. As a child reaches 2, 3 and 4 years old, they are forming attachments and patterns that can make adoption a more difficult transition. Once your child approaches age 4, it may be harder to find to find an adoption agency equipped with the resources and services to complete a safe, reliable adoption for an older child. While there are adoption agencies, like American Adoptions, who may be able to assist with adoptions in this age range on a case‐by‐case basis, there are also resources that can help make parenting easier. It could be the case that, even though children meet the age requirements for giving your child up for adoption, parenting may still be the best option available.

Adoption at Ages 5 to 12 Years

At many adoption agencies, including American Adoptions, 4 years old is generally considered the maximum age to put a child up for adoption. Instead, seeking out local resources that can ease the burden of parenting is usually the best option for children in this age range. Some resources to consider are:

Hopefully these services can make your situation better, especially if your child has passed the oldest age to “give a child up” for adoption with most adoption agencies.

Siblings Sets

A caveat to that maximum age to “give a child up” for adoption is the importance of maintaining sibling sets. If you are wondering about the age limit to put a child up for adoption, but you plan on placing siblings for adoption, this can sometimes change the situation. Research has shown that it is good for siblings to stay together in adoption if at all possible.

When you contact an adoption professional about placing more than one child for adoption, you can stress how much it matters to you that the siblings stay together. American Adoptions will never split up siblings in different adoptive families when they are being placed together. Even in cases where the oldest child is slightly above our agency’s typical age limit to put a child up for adoption, we will do what we can to work with you in this situation if you are also placing a newborn or infant for adoption. There are many amazing, loving adoptive parents who would be willing to change their plans in order to keep siblings together.

On the other hand, if your child is much older than our agency’s typical adoption age limit, you may need to consider parenting both children or parenting your older child and placing your infant for adoption. In this case, your adoption specialist can provide the support you need to explain adoption to your older child, and you can ensure your children still maintain a strong relationship through open adoption.

Putting a Child Up for Adoption Age Limit

As you can see, there is no exact age limit to “give up” for adoption. However, as a child gets older, the options can become more limited. Most private adoption agencies, including American Adoptions, simply don’t have the structure or resources to responsibly conduct an adoption process for older children. Since everyone involved wants what is best for you and for the child, sometimes it can be better to find parenting resources when wondering if you can “give a child up” for adoption at any age.

However, if you truly feel that placing your child for adoption is the best option in your situation, there are professionals that may be able to assist. This could be your state’s local social services, an adoption attorney, or even an organization that specializes in temporary guardianships. You should explore all of your options before going through with this life‐changing decision.

Resources When You Are Considering Adoption

These resources may not be able to remedy all of the difficulties in life, but they are a good place to start. Adoption could be the best option for you, or it could be the case that your children are past the oldest age to “give a child up” for adoption with most agencies.

No matter the circumstances, a compassionate specialist is always ready to listen. If you are considering adoption for an infant or toddler, you can request free information from our website at any time, or you can always reach out to speak with a specialist who may be able to provide more resources for your situation. If you are considering placing an older child for adoption, reach out to your local social services department for more information and to learn more about your options.

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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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

While not every woman who chooses adoption is a young mother, many are. Through adoption, many young women have found an ability to give their babies the best life possible, while finding the opportunity to realize their own dreams, as well. Call American Adoptions today at 1-800-ADOPTION.

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Adoption Glossary

Do adoption terms and phrases leave you feeling confused? Learn the meaning to key adoption words and phrases with our comprehensive adoption glossary.

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