10 Requirements for Adopting from Foster Care
Adopting from foster care is an amazing opportunity for hopeful parents. But, with the responsibility of becoming a parent, it makes sense that not just anyone can adopt a foster child. Adoption is a complex, legal process with many moving parts to ensure that every child is placed in a loving, safe home. That means there are certain requirements every family must meet before they can be approved for this process.
With that in mind, you’re probably asking yourself, “Can I adopt a foster child?” The answer to this question depends. Before you get started, let’s take a take a look at a few common questions that other hopeful foster parents ask about eligibility requirements.
Can anyone adopt a foster child?
No — who can adopt a foster child is determined by a number of factors. Not just anyone can pass their state’s requirements to become an adoptive family. Like all types of adoption, you’ll need to look into your state’s eligibility requirements before you start the journey.
As you can imagine, what’s needed to adopt a child in each state can vary greatly. Some states have certain marital, age, and financial requirements for parents who want to adopt from foster care. That doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t be able to adopt if you don’t meet these requirements exactly, but understanding the basic qualifications is an important first step in determining whether you will be eligible.
One of the most important requirements for adopting from foster care is emotional readiness. In addition to meeting the eligibility requirements in your state, you should start by asking yourself if you’re:
- Emotionally and mentally ready to meet the needs of a child
- Ready for any and all potential situations
- Educated about the needs of foster children
- Prepared to advocate for the needs of foster children
How old do I have to be to adopt a foster child?
Most states require adoptive parents to be a certain age, at minimum — often at least 18 or 21 years old, however, every state is different. You’ll need to take a look at your state’s requirements to make sure you meet the minimum age requirement.
Can you adopt a child in foster care if you are not married?
Yes! You don’t need to be married to adopt from foster care. Many single people have built a loving family through foster care adoption. Learn more about the adoption of foster child requirements for a single parent here.
Are there income requirements for foster-adopt families?
There is no specific income requirement for potential foster and adoptive parents; you don’t have to be wealthy to provide a good life for a child in foster care. However, like all types of adoption, you will need to show that you have the means to support yourself and your future family. During your home study, your social work will ask you to provide financial statements that prove you have the means to add a child to your home. If everything looks good, then you’re well on your way to making your adoption dreams come true.
Can you foster-adopt if you’re renting a house?
Many hopeful parents wonder, “What are the home requirements for foster to adopt?” There are no housing restrictions for foster care parents, and you don’t need to own your own home. During the in‐home portion of your home study, a social worker will evaluate your home and ensure it is a safe environment with adequate space to raise a child. They’ll be looking for certain features, such as a fire escape route or a fence around your pool. If you’re able to provide a safe environment with adequate space for a child, even if your rent your home or live in an apartment, you should have no problem passing your in‐home visit.
Can you adopt or foster if you have bipolar disorder or another mental health condition?
During your home study, a social worker will measure your readiness to adopt. This includes evaluating your emotional, mental, and physical health. If you have bipolar disorder, depression or another mood disorder or mental health condition, this step can make you understandably anxious. You might be worried about what your social worker will think of you, or if disclosing your disorder will end your dream of adopting a child from foster care.
The answer to this question really depends on a number of factors. The most important thing to remember is how you manage your mental illness. Your disorder should not prevent you from adopting if you can show your caseworker that you:
- Have experience handling your mental health successfully
- Know when to reach out for help
- Are receiving medical care
- Can consistently care for a child
However, it’s up to your social worker to determine if you can still meet the needs of a child while living with a mental illness or mood disorder. Talk to your doctor and your caseworker to determine if you’re ready to meet the requirements of foster parenting. Remember that there are many people who have been in your shoes, so you can always reach out to other families if you have questions about adopting with a mental health history.
Can you adopt a foster child if you are in the military?
Yes! Military families are more than able to adopt from the U.S. foster care system. To learn more about a foster care adoption as a military family, start here.
Can you foster or adopt with a criminal record?
Many people wonder if having a prior criminal record will prevent them from adopting. Similar to many of the questions on this list, the answer to this really depends. During your home study, your social worker will evaluate the circumstances of your conviction, how long it’s been, and how you’ve learned and grown from the experience. Of course, your social worker will also take into consideration the nature of the crime. If it involved domestic violence, child abuse or neglect, it’s extremely unlikely that your home study will meet the foster to adopt requirements and that you’ll be eligible to adopt.
Can you adopt from foster care in another state?
Some hopeful parents search national photolistings to find their perfect adoption opportunity — and end up falling in love with a foster child currently residing in another part of the country. While the requirements can vary depending on the state where the child is located, living in another state won’t necessarily stop you from building your perfect family. Adoptions across state lines do require some additional steps, but if the child’s caseworkers feel that your family is a good fit, it can be possible!
To learn whether an out-of-state foster adoption is possible in your situation, you will need to submit an inquiry to the child’s foster care agency. If you’re considering an adoption across state lines, you’ll need to become familiar with the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC). It also means that you’ll need to travel to the state you plan on adopting from to meet your future child. Your foster agency will be there to help walk you through the interstate adoption process.
Can you adopt a child from foster care if you have a Green Card?
As long as you reside in the U.S., adopting a foster child may be possible even if you have a Green Card. To learn more about adopting a child from foster care if you hold a Green Card, please start by contacting your local foster care agency to confirm your eligibility.
What are the requirements to adopt a foster child with Native American heritage?
Adopting a child with Native American heritage can make the process a little more complex. Due to the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), there are a number of requirements that must be met before you can welcome a foster child into your home with Native Indian heritage. To learn more about what that looks like, check out more information here.
Start Your Adoption Journey
Determining that you meet the requirements for adopting from foster care is one of the most important steps in the entire process. If you have any questions about what is required to adopt a foster child, or about the foster adoption process, don’t forget that you can always reach out to an adoption professional near you for more information. For specific information on eligibility requirements for your state, check out adoptuskids.org.