Who Can Adopt


In general, most adults in the U.S. are eligible and able to adopt. You can be married or single, younger or older, have a smaller or larger income, be first-time parents or already have children. Having a disability or health issues do not automatically disqualify you from adopting.

The requirements to adopt are different based on the type of adoption you choose – domestic, international, or foster-adopt.

  • Domestic & Foster Adoptions:
    • Requirements set by state law
    • Agencies can have additional requirements (age, marital status, etc.)
  • International Adoptions:
    • U.S. citizens must first be eligible to adopt under U.S. law (determined by the federal agency U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services)
    • If unmarried, you must be at least 25 years old
    • If married, you must jointly adopt the child
    • Must also meet your home state’s adoption requirements
    • Each foreign country has its own requirements for adopting parents

Age Requirements

Adoption agencies can have age limits or want adoptive families to be at least 10 years older than the child they are adopting. Several states have set age requirements of adoptive parents to be at least 18, 21, or even 25 years old. Some countries (such as China) have a required age range, where both parents much be between the ages of 30 and 50.

Resident Requirements

Some states require the prospective adoptive families to be residents of the state in which they will adopt. Other states make residency exceptions for military families. For some international adoptions, the country’s law may require at least one adopting parent to travel to that country to complete documentation in person.

Single Parent Adoption

In most states, any single adult can be eligible to adopt. For international adoption, it depends on the country. For example, China’s currently only allows adoption by married couples, defined as one man and one woman, who’ve been married at least two years.

Same Sex Adoption

The adoption laws in most states do not mention sexual orientation when defining the requirements to adopt. There are a few states and some countries that specifically prohibit adoption by same sex couples.

It is important to always seek the advice of a qualified adoption attorney so they can explain the current adoption laws in your state or refer you to adoption attorneys who practice in other states or internationally.

While there are requirements for hopeful adoptive parents, you do not need to be “perfect parents” in order to adopt. Children simply need someone who will provide a loving, caring, and safe environment – someone who will make them a permanent part of their family.

Additional information about who can adopt can be found at: