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Questionnaire: Am I Eligible To Adopt A Child?

You may be considering adopting a child and wondering if you're eligible to do so. Adoption laws vary from state to state and, in the case of international adoptions, from country to country. In addition, certain agencies may apply more restrictive criteria to prospective adoptive parents.

There are, however, a few general guidelines that apply in most instances, as illustrated by the statements below. As you read through them, check all that apply. Your adoption attorney can go over your responses with you and help you determine the best route for adding to your family.

Adoption Eligibility Checklist

_____ I am eighteen years old or older. The age limits vary from state to state and from country to country. Some countries base their age restrictions on the difference between the child's and the parents' age, and still others mandate that there be only so much difference between the ages of the parents themselves.

_____ I have saved enough money to cover the costs of adoption. Adoptions can be very expensive, and saving in advance can be prudent. It is not, however, the only way to fund an adoption. Many people borrow from their retirement savings or against the equity in their homes, or receive loans from family members. Sometimes, a church will sponsor an adoption for one of its parishioners. Employers, too, may offer adoption benefits. The adoption tax credit can offset some or all of the financial burden accompanying the adoption process. Note, too, that some adoptions, such as those involving special needs children or children in domestic foster care, can be achieved for lower or even no cost.

_____ I earn enough money to cover the expenses of raising a child. We've all heard about how much it costs to raise a child to the age of eighteen, to say nothing of the costs of a college education (although parents are not required to contribute to a child's college education). Income is an important consideration, especially in single-parent adoptions, as well as those involving two parents, if one intends to stop working after the child arrives.

_____ My employment is stable. This concern may be relevant not only to a determination of financial stability, but also to a general finding of responsibility and maturity. Prospective adoptive parents must be able to provide their child with a stable home environment. 

_____ I am in good health. Rules regarding certain disabilities are relaxed, but you will generally need to provide proof that you have a good life expectancy and that you can manage the physical demands of caring for a child. 

_____ My home is clean and safe and can accommodate the needs of a child. You do not need to live in a palace to qualify to adopt. A modest home or apartment is acceptable, as long as it will provide a safe environment and room for the child to play, explore, and grow. To ensure your home is this type of nurturing environment, all prospective adoptive parents must undergo a home study in their state before they are approved for proceeding forward with the adoption. Learn more about home studies in FindLaw's Home Study FAQ article. 

_____ I do not have a criminal record. Although minor infractions, like unpaid parking tickets, are generally of no consequence (even these minor offenses may, however, require a written explanation), more serious charges are of greater concern. Previous charges of child abuse are likely to disqualify you as an adoptive parent.


Additional factors such as religion, fertility status, and educational background may be important to certain agencies, countries, or birth parents, but they do not have general significance. Perhaps the most important qualification to be an adoptive parent is the hardest to quantify: your capacity to love and nurture the child that is placed in your family.

See Also

More Questions About Your Eligibility to Adopt a Child? Talk to an Attorney

This checklist is a good starting point to see whether you're personally in a position to adopt a child. However, once you've decided to do so, you're going to face a new range of questions, especially about the adoption process.

For this reason, it's a good idea to speak with a local adoption attorney who can walk you through the process and also help you plan for what happens after the adoption is completed.

You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help

Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.

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Contact a qualified attorney specializing in adoptions.

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