By FindLaw Staff | Legally reviewed by Nicole Prebeck, Esq. | Last reviewed December 30, 2022
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Deciding whether to adopt a child or place a child up for adoption presents a difficult set of considerations. Knowing the rules for adoption before you enter the adoption process will help ensure that you make the correct decision for everyone involved.
Below you will find an introduction to adoption rules, including: a look at who may adopt, who may place a child up for adoption, state-specific adoption laws, the adoption process, the costs of adoption, and more.
Who May Adopt?
Generally speaking, any single adult or married couple is eligible to adopt. In some states a married person can adopt alone if either they are legally separated from their spouse or if their spouse is legally incompetent. Under some circumstances, stepparents may adopt the birth children of their spouse. Some states have restrictions based on age or residency within the state.
LGBTQ+ couples may face additional resistance when attempting to adopt. In some states, such as Connecticut, the sexual orientations of prospective parents may be considered, although state law also prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
Who Can Be Adopted?
States have a variety of rules that guide who may be adopted. All states and territories permit the adoption of a child. Many states permit adoption regardless of the age of the person being adopted. Some states require that the child be under 18 years of age, and other states require that the adopting person be a particular number of years older than the adopted person. These age differences range from 10 to 15 years.
Some states restrict the adoption of adults to persons who are disabled. Other states require that the adopting parent and child-to-be-adopted cohabit or establish a parent/child relationship for a period prior to the petition. This period of time ranges from month to years, depending on the state.
Types of Adoptions
The process of adoption, or the parties involved, may differ depending on the circumstances and laws relevant to individual circumstances.
Some adoptions involve family members. As was mentioned earlier, under some circumstances stepparents may adopt their stepchildren. Family members may also seek to adopt a grandchild, niece, or nephew due to the death or incapacitation of the birth parents.
Adoptions may also take place in other ways, such as by the following means:
- With the assistance of an agency
- By private arrangement, but still processed by an agency in an "adoption by identification" or by an "independent adoption"
It's important to note, however, that not all states permit independent adoptions.
International adoptions have been quite popular, although they also introduce additional issues of having to deal with U.S. immigration laws along with the requirements of your state of residence.
Need More Help? Contact an Attorney Today!
Adoptions are very complicated, and the assistance of an agency and an attorney are helpful. Consider contacting a qualified family law attorney near you today. Such attorneys can help you navigate the process of your adoption. They can help you avoid costly and time-consuming errors that can ultimately jeopardize your ability to successfully adopt a child.
Learn About Adoption Overview
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