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How Old Do You Have To Be To Adopt A Child

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How Old Do You Have To Be To Adopt A Child

Most people dream of having a family from the time they are a young child and many like the idea of adopting. If you are part of this group, then you probably want to adopt as soon as you can. However, before you make a move, you must ensure that you meet the age requirements to even have a chance of getting approved. Today, we will answer the question of how old you have to be to adopt a child and the other requirements that you will need to meet to have the best chance of success.

Key Points of Adopting a Child

  • The rules and age requirements will differ by state and sometimes country. Be sure to research your area's local laws before starting the process.
  • Even though you only have to be a specific age, generally speaking, it will be easier to meet the other requirements if you are older or more set up in your life financially speaking.
  • Ultimately it is up to the governing body over adoption in your area to decide if you are fit to adopt a child.

How Old You Have to Be to Adopt A Child

Mother and her child playing together. Girl and mom in Superhero costume. Mum and kid having fun, smiling and hugging. Family holiday and togetherness.
In most states, you need to be at least 21 years old to adopt, but the rules differ based on where you live.

©Yuganov Konstantin/Shutterstock.com

There are many considerations that an adoption agency will make to determine if you are capable of bringing a child into your home. One of them is your age. When it comes to how old you have to be to adopt a child, the answer often depends on where you live. According to the Adoption Network, in most states, a person must be of legal age or 21 years or older, to be eligible to adopt a child.

Keep in mind that the state you live in may have different rules, so you will want to do your research before you move forward. Some states allow you to adopt before the age of 21, and some states require that you are older than that.

Rules for Domestic Adoptions

According to the Child Welfare government website, in the following states, you only need to be 18 to be eligible to adopt:

  • Connecticut
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Montana
  • New Jersey
  • Tennessee
  • Washington
  • Puerto Rico 

In the following states, you must be at least 25 years old to adopt:

  • Georgia 
  • Idaho

The states listed below have slightly different requirements for the minimum age for adoption. According to their laws, the rule is that the adoptive parents must be at least 10 years older than the child they are planning to adopt. Those states are:

  • California
  • Georgia
  • Nevada
  • New Jersey
  • South Dakota
  • Utah

Rules for International Adoptions

When it comes to adopting from another country, the rules are a bit different. First, you need to meet the eligibility requirements of the country where you plan to find the child to adopt. You would need to conduct your own research based on that location. 

However, a rule that is typical across the board is that you must be at least 25 years old to even be accepted into the international adoption program. You can look at the rules in many different countries by visiting this link.

Other Requirements You Will Need to Meet

There are many requirements that you will need to meet to be approved for adoption.


In addition to knowing how old you have to be, there are various other requirements and guidelines that you will need to satisfy before you may be approved to adopt a child. It is important to remember that the adoption process is very complicated, and there are many factors that an adoption agency will consider before they approve your application. 

If you are under the benchmark of 25 years old, you should ask yourself if you are truly ready for a child. Are your fiscally sound? What kind of household are you living in? Are you mature enough to raise a child? There will be some exceptions to this. Such as in cases where a relative or sibling needs to replace the child from an unsafe home for example.

Here are some of the other requirements and considerations that you will need to satisfy along the way:

Good Health

During the application period, you will likely be subject to a home study. During this time, they will check the numerous parts of your life to ensure that you have a suitable home for a child and that you are able to care for this child in the long term. You will be assigned a caseworker that will ask you for health statements from your doctor that ensures them that you are in good health and that you do not have any chronic conditions. If you are not in good health, then that will be a red flag.

Background Check

You will also be subject to extensive local, state, and federal background checks. You will be fingerprinted, and then they will go through your background to see if you have ever been arrested. If you know that you have a red flag in your past, then it is a good idea to bring it up with your case worker. If you can explain the situation and what you learned from it, then you still have a chance to adapt. 

Financial Responsibility

Your caseworker will ask about your financial history. They will want to know that you have money coming in and that you will be able to afford food and housing for yourself and the child. The agency will likely ask for several pay stubs from your current employer as well as your tax documents from years past. You will also need to show proof of medical insurance and that you have money to pay for it going forward. 

Safety Of Your Home

The caseworker will go to your home at least once during your home study and application period. They will want to ensure that you have a safe home environment. During this inspection, they will check that you don’t have any dangerous substances, that all cleaning products are out of reach, that you have child locks on cabinets (if applicable), and that if you have firearms, they are secured. They will also check that there is enough room in your house for your child to sleep and move about comfortably.


Finally, you will be required to show references. These could be family, friends, past teachers, members of your church, or anyone you believe can put in a good word for you. One bad reference won’t mean an automatic decline. However, it is wise to get the best character witnesses possible to give you the best chance.


So, there you have it. This covers how old you have to be and the other requirements that you need to meet to adopt a child. Keep in mind that every case is different, so be prepared for anything. If you decide to move forward with your quest to adopt and bring a child into your life, then we wish you the best of luck with your new endeavor.

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