Adopting a child is an exciting time in a family’s life. You’ve made the decision to add a new member to your family. While adoption is exciting, it can also be a long, confusing, and sometimes even frustrating process. All prospective parents have to meet certain requirements before being allowed to adopt and many states have varying eligibility requirements.
If you are thinking about adopting a child, you don’t have to figure this complicated process out on your own. A family lawyer in Alameda County, CA, like from Bernie Kempen & Company, can help walk you through this process to ensure it goes as smoothly as possible.
Do you need to be married to adopt a child?
No. In most states, any married couple or any single person is qualified to adopt a child. Stepparents are also eligible to adopt their stepchildren. In some states, adoption is allowed by one spouse if the married couple is legally separated or if the spouse is deemed legally incompetent.
There are no additional requirements specified for adoption in seventeen states (including Washington, D.C.). However, if you do not live in those seventeen states there may be additional requirements.
How old do you need to be to adopt a child?
While there is no age limit on adopting in some states (see above), 11 states require age minimums to be able to adopt.
Kentucky, Montana, Tennessee, Louisiana, New Jersey, and Washington all require adoptive parents to be at least eighteen. Oklahoma, Delaware, and Colorado require potential adoptive parents to be at least twenty-one, while Georgia and Idaho require an age restriction of twenty-five.
Other states do not have a minimum age limit, but rather require the adoptive parent to be older than the child by a minimum number of years. Adoptive parents must be at least ten years older than the child in Utah, South Dakota, Georgia, California, Nevada, and New Jersey. In Idaho, the adoptive parent must be at least fifteen years older than the child.
There are a few states that allow minors to adopt under special circumstances. A family lawyer can help determine if you qualify.
Are there other factors to consider?
If you meet the minimum requirements to adopt a child in the United States, there are still a number of factors to consider. Adopting a child into your family is a huge step and adoption agencies or foster care systems need to know the child will be placed into a stable home. Here are some other questions to ask yourself before starting the adoption process:
Do I have enough money saved for the cost of the adoption?
Adopting a child can be very expensive and it’s important that you either have the money saved already or have a plan on how you will raise the funds (fundraisers, loans, etc.)
Is my employment situation stable?
We all know it costs a lot to raise a child and having a stable employment situation shows financial stability but also maturity.
Is my home suitable for raising a child?
Many adoption agencies will conduct a home study to ensure that your home is suitable to raise a child. Even a smaller home or apartment is fine as long as it is a safe environment where the child has room to grow and play.
What are the next steps?
The best next step when determining if adopting a child is the right thing for your family is to reach out to a family lawyer. We know adoption has a lot of moving pieces and can be a stressful time in your life. Let a lawyer walk alongside you in this exciting journey of adoption. Call a law firm today.