Understanding Age Limits in Adoption


Among the many other constraints on parents considering adoption, either international or domestic, there are certain things to know when it comes to age limits for adoptive parents. Learning about some of the factors that influence these age requirements and recommendations will help you understand the standards and even stigmas that go along with an age limit for adoptive parents.

Do State Laws Set Adoption Age Limits?

Each state’s laws for adoptive parents vary regarding how young you can be to potentially adopt a child, but none of the state laws declare a maximum age requirement for adoption. However, when working within the foster care system or with a private adoption agency in the United States or internationally, those limits can change. In some states too there are requirements for the age of the child in comparison to the age of the potential adoptive parent. For example, many states such as Utah, South Dakota, New Jersey, Nevada, Georgia, and California declare that the adoptive parent must be at least 10 years older than an adoptee, and in Idaho, the parent must be at least 15 years older than the child.

Why Adoption Agencies Set Age Restrictions

So, if a state doesn’t have maximum age limits for adoptive parents, what is the reason that, when working with some agencies, these restrictions would be placed on potential parents?

 Adoption agencies always have the best interest of the child at heart when placing them in a home. Many times, from their experience working in the adoption circle with birth moms and adoptive parents alike, what they learn is very valuable to the well-being of the child and family he or she is placed with. With this in mind, most adoption agencies typically work with adoptive parents that are between their mid-twenties and mid-fifties for domestic adoptions. Many potential birth mothers seeking a family to adopt their baby are asking for younger mothers and fathers within this age range. Therefore, if someone in the older age range (above fifty years old) is seeking to adopt, a birth mother may not be willing to choose them over a younger parent.

Another reason many agencies are setting an age limit on potential parents for adoption is taking into consideration the health of the parents past a certain age. When conducting a home study, a case worker will be evaluating a potential parent’s physical and mental health in order to deem them fit to raise a child for eighteen more years and provide not only a loving home but also one where the parent will be present for their childhood. While these are always difficult questions to ask, ensuring the total well-being of the child includes healthy parents.

Options for Older Adoptive Parents

What if you fall into the category of being a mid-lifer and still desire to adopt a child into your home? One answer could be to research different adoption agencies and ask what age limits they work with for domestic adoptions. Many times, they will work on a case-by-case basis to make exceptions to their age requirements. Once your home study is finished, an agency could consider the opportunity for you to be able to adopt with them, even if it is outside of their preferred age range for adoption.

International adoption is another option to consider. Many countries do not have maximum age limits for international adoptions, but rather an age limit in reference to the adopted child’s age, much like some states ask for potential adoptive parents to be at least ten years older than a child. Many older individuals have been successful when applying to adopt from overseas.

Foster-to-adopt opportunities also allow someone to bring a child into their home without having a set maximum age limit. Many state foster programs do not set age restrictions. Once someone is a foster parent, they are also more likely to be considered for adoption in that system, which would speed up the process in some cases.

In any situation, older children will almost always be on a waiting list to be adopted longer than infants. If you are willing to adopt an older child either through domestic, international, or foster adoption, you may also be considered more quickly for a child.

For older parents who have younger children, many will tell you that in their age they grew wiser and more patient. This could even be considered a benefit of applying to adopt in your more “experienced” years. You still have a lot to offer a child who needs a home, so even if you think you have passed your prime, consider some of these options when desiring to adopt.


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