How to Adopt a Child in the US?

Choosing to adopt is a charitable venture filled with emotional rewards and lifelong bonds. Unfortunately, adoption goes through a process that can only be clear with guidance. Adopting a child can be a complex process involving legal, emotional, and financial requirements. Read on to learn about how to adopt a child and what to prepare for along the way.

how to adopt a child

Legal Requirements for Adoption

Legal requirements for adoption change depending on the country and state where you reside and where your prospective child lives. However, these aren’t steadfast rules, so there are many ways around specific ones, depending on your situation.

For example, according to federal law, one can adopt if unmarried but at least 25 years old. If, however, the adopters were to marry at 18, six states would allow them to adopt regardless of federal law. Age requirements in other states can provide even more exceptions to federal laws; in Georgia, the adopters must be at least 25, while in Utah, the adopters must be at least ten years older than the child.

Another legal requirement to consider is the marriage status clause. Under federal law, if you are married, prospective parents must file for adoption and pass all other requirements. If separated, parents must jointly adopt the child; your partner must be equally fit for the process.

LGBTQIA+ individuals may also face more complications if they live in a state that limits their adoption eligibility. Sixty percent of the continental states prohibit discrimination limiting adoption by gender (29 states); however, 22% of states allow adoption agencies to refuse LGBTQAI+ members if it conflicts with their religious beliefs (12 states). If you identify as a member of this group, ensure that you do complete research before starting the process.

An adopter's suitability is determined by having a judge review your criminal history. Passing a criminal background check is crucial in placing children in good homes with bright futures, so there are federal regulations that reinforce this rule. Consider doing a judgment records search for those looking to adopt alongside their partner; you may find surprising histories that will block your path to adoption. It’s also a good idea to check your court records before starting the process since some crimes bar individuals from adopting, period.

Emotional Requiremets for Adoption

Federal and state conditions aren’t the only requirements to adopt a child. Adopters must also be emotionally ready for their new family member(s). Communication is vital to any productive relationship, so ironing out the details involved with childrearing, parenting, and discipline styles is imperative.

When adopting under marriage, it is common for one partner to be more enthusiastic while the other holds reservations. The same is true of people looking to adopt to resolve fertility issues; professionals will always suggest moving on from infertility before starting the adoption process.

Many couples will also need to decide how to talk to loved ones. Adoption is a long process, and many pitfalls can void adoption, such as the birth mother deciding to keep her child. On your adoptive journey, both parents need to be on the same page about who to tell; professionals suggest keeping news of the adoptive process close to home until things are closer to finalization.

Additionally, if your adoption does fall through, try to take it as a learning experience. Knowing how to deal with ups and downs is a testament to your preparedness to become a round-the-clock parent. Professional counselors and adoption persons are particularly good at preparing prospective parents for these challenges.

requirements for adoption

Financial Requiremets for Adoption

How much does it cost to adopt a child? Domestically, they can range from $25,000 to $50,000, while international adoptions are often above this range since they also require travel costs. Many prospective parents find additional funding through programs and additional income streams—for example:

  • Adoption tax creditstax credits can be readily accessed to alleviate some adoption costs. For these to work, however, the adopters must stay privy to the tax programs available in their local area.
  • Grants and loans: adoptive parents may qualify for many federal and state programs. Professionals may help because they can access hidden or little-used alternatives.
  • Fundraisers: bake sales, car washes, and community events are often picked to raise money for adoption quickly. Recently, many prospective parents have also taken up online solutions like

Once legal, emotional, and financial requirements are met, the next step is to explore your options for the adoption process. Depending on your situation, picking one type of adoption over the other may be more realistic. Choosing to work with certified adoption professionals is the best route for simplicity.

Hire a Professional to Assist with the Process

The professional you need will depend on the type of adoption you want. There are three main paths to adoption: through foster care, private, or international. Domestic adoptions are usually smoother and cheaper, but there are professionals to assist in every adoption case. Some of the professionals you may consider speaking to could be:

  • National agencies: the foster care system is one of the largest databases prospective parents can use to find their future child. They also have nearly unlimited tools and resources to assist all parties throughout and after the adoption.
  • Local and regional agencies: localized options are usually less equipped than national options; since they work with fewer mothers, there may be limited available children and after-adoption resources.
  • Attorneys: a qualified attorney must verify and complete every adoption for it to be valid. In some private adoption cases, an attorney may be all that is needed, while in national adoptions, more than one may be present throughout the process.
  • Facilitators: also called private adoption firms, these professionals know how to adopt a child but rarely provide further services. They primarily focus on pairing birth mothers with prospective adopters. If going this route, it is a good idea to look online for any people records; birth mothers may want to know more about the couple and vis versa.

Complete a Home Study

Home studies ensure that the prospective parents are: legally eligible for adoption, can provide a fit home for the child, and are a good fit in lifestyle. Regarding legal eligibility, a comprehensive review of your (and your partner’s) documents is necessary; this is often called a collection of documents. The review will involve everything from birth certificates to background checks.

Prospective parents must also prove their home is fit for children through a home inspection. Couples fear their homes won’t pass this part of the home study, but ensuring the home is safe is enough. The last step in the home study is a series of interviews. Everyone who lives on the property will be interviewed to understand the lifestyle within the home.

Adoption is an Ongoing Process; Professionals Can Help

Government agencies will continue to monitor your family to ensure the child is in a safe and healthy environment. No one is born knowing how to adopt a child—but plenty of professionals, organizations, and people looking to help you, and your future child, come together.