Who Can Adopt Kids?

By JustSew

Families come in all shapes, sizes and colors, and this can be especially true of adoptive families. Many adults are eligible to adopt kids, but some may have an easier time than others in finding an adoption agency that will work well with them.


Mature adults with the desire and ability to be adoptive parents may be eligible to adopt kids through government sponsored, non-profit or private adoption agencies. Some agencies will consider applications from potential parents regardless of marital status, sexual orientation, gender, family size, disability or religion, while others have more restrictive requirements. All agencies will consider criminal history, and a potential parent’s ability to support a child or children emotionally, financially and physically.


Those seeking to adopt children internationally will find that each country has its own set of requirements. Many countries consider the parents’ age, marital status, criminal history, income level, and family size, including any biological or adopted children they already have. Some countries also consider the parent’s weight and health, fertility, or religious beliefs. Some countries, such as Russia, Ethiopia, Haiti, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Liberia, Colombia and Vietnam accept single parents, while others, such as China and South Korea do not. Other countries, such as India, may allow single women to adopt, but not single men.


Traditional married couples between the ages of 25 and 50 who have a stable income may find that they have the widest variety of options when it comes to adopting kids. People who wish to be single, older or co-habitating parents may have to look a little harder for an agency that will accept these kinds of applicants. Many states have less stringent requirements for in-family adoptions, such as people who wish to adopt a step-child, sibling or grandchild, than for adoptive parents who are unrelated to the birth parents.


People with disabilities who wish to adopt in the United States are protected from discrimination by the Americans with Disabilities Act. However, they must still be physically able to parent a child. Other groups that may face discrimination based on age, martial status, sexual orientation or religious beliefs may not be protected by such laws, particularly if they want to adopt internationally. Some states, including California, Nevada, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Jersey and New York have laws preventing adoption discrimination based on sexual orientation. In contrast, Florida, Mississippi, Michigan, Nebraska, North Dakota and Utah have laws that may restrict such adoptions. Private agencies that specialize in infant adoption often let the birth parents help choose the adoptive family, and birth parents may have specific ideas about what types of parents they want their children to have.

Expert Insight

All people who are thinking about adopting kids should consider whether they are emotionally, physically and financially ready to parent children, especially those that may have been abandoned or abused, or that need to adjust to a new country, language and culture. Some agencies have children who may be more difficult to find families for, such as sibling groups, older children, and children with disabilities and special medical or emotional needs. In such cases, agencies may be more open about who can adopt kids, as long as they find a family who is a good match.