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How Old Do You Have to Be to Adopt a Child?

by
author image Meg Brannagan
Meg Brannagan has worked as a registered nurse for more than 10 years, specializing in women's and children's health. She holds a bachelor's degree in nursing from the University of Nebraska Medical Center.
How Old Do You Have to Be to Adopt a Child?
Close-up of an adult holding a child's hand. Photo Credit anyaberkut/iStock/Getty Images

For parents who are considering adopting a child, age requirements may seem unnecessary. After all, if a child needs a home, potential parents are available to provide it. Age requirements are typically stipulated in many types of adoptions because agencies and governments see age as a sign of an ability to raise a child.

What’s in an Age

Parents who are very young and attempting adoption may have unresolved commitments or may have other goals for the future. People who are close to retirement may not want to go back to changing diapers and losing sleep. Age shows a level of maturity among parents who may have spent years waiting for a child, spending time with other children, and learning about parenting. Age requirements are in place to ensure that adopted children are going to homes with parents who are more likely to be financially and emotionally stable.

International Adoption

Parents who adopt internationally are required to submit to the laws of both the United States and their child’s birth country to meet requirements. The minimum and maximum age for potential adoptive parents varies by country. For example, according to the U. S. Department of State Office of Children’s Issues, potential adoptive parents must be at least 30 years old but not older than 55 to adopt a baby from China. Kenya requires parents to be 25 but no more than 65, while parents adopting from Kyrgyzstan need only be 18.

Adopting at Home

While most states do not have a minimum age requirement to adopt a child domestically, a birth parent may consider the age of the adoptive parents when making a decision. Some birth parents want their child to be raised by “seasoned” parents and may choose a couple who is older. Others may want their baby to be a first child and might choose a younger potential parent. Some domestic adoptions are arranged through an agency, and birth and adoptive parents may never meet. In these circumstances, the agency may have a minimum or maximum age requirement.

Foster Care Considerations

Foster parents must become licensed before bringing a child into the home, and in many situations foster care of a child may lead to his adoption by the foster parents. The National Voice of Foster Parents states that while basic requirements to become a foster parent differ with each state, all potential foster parents must be at least 21 years old before they can become licensed to care for a foster child or to eventually adopt that child.

Resources

Regardless of the type of adoption, parents who want to consider adopting a child and who have questions about age requirements have resources for more information. The Child Welfare Information Gateway has a great deal of information about adoption and lists requirements for potential parents by state of residence.

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