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Putting a Child Up for Adoption at Any Age

Age Requirements for Placing a Child for Adoption

If you're considering placing your child for adoption, the age of your child will influence your adoption process. But, the ability to choose adoption may be an option for you. Call 1-800-ADOPTION now to learn more.

  • Challenging circumstances in life and the age of your child don’t prohibit you from considering adoption. 

  • Adoption gives you the opportunity to find the perfect home for your child, as well as create a better future for you. 

  • A hopeful adoptive family is given the chance to live out their dream of growing a family. 

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 common questions to ask, and it’s important to know that it is okay to consider adoption. 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, like them, you can turn a difficult situation into one full of love and hope. 

Please know that American Adoptions is unable to provide adoption services for children over 4 years old. If you are considering adoption for a child older than 4 years, we have created this guide to your options.

Continue reading for information on adoption and the age of your child. 

If you’re ready to start the adoption process with our agency or want more information on adoption, call us at 1-800-ADOPTION, or visit our online contact forms for prospective birth mothers and prospective adoptive parents. 

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.

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 we at 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. 

Many of our adoption professionals are adoptees, have adopted or have placed a child for adoption, giving us a unique perspective of the adoption process and how it can positively change the lives of everyone involved. It’s important that you have the same happy and hopeful adoption experience. 

For more information on placing your newborn or younger child up for adoption or to start your adoption journey with American Adoptions, call us at 1-800-ADOPTION, or visit us online

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 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. 

Along with these added pieces of information, there may be additional emotional considerations — 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 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 into 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 adoption professional is always ready to listen. If you are considering adoption for an infant or toddler, you can talk to Michelle, a birth parent specialist and a birth parent herself, who is ready to answer any questions you have about adoption and age requirements.       

“I am available to answer any questions that arise, particularly from birth moms, as I have been in your shoes and know how you are feeling,” Michelle said. “It was most helpful to me when I had someone to talk to who would just listen to me without making any judgments or conclusions about who I was as a person.”       

You can ask Michelle questions about the adoption process online. You can also call us toll-free at 1-800-ADOPTION, or get free information with our online contact form for prospective birth mothers considering adoption here. Adoptive families wanting more information on adopting a child can click here to get more information.     

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

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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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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