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What Will Disqualify You from Adopting a Child?

If you’re someone who is considering adoption as a way to create the family of your dreams, this is a very exciting time in your life.  But, with a process as life-changing as adoption, there are requirements to be able to adopt. You might be wondering: What will disqualify me from adopting a child?

Every adoption professional you work with will have standards in place to make sure that they are working with adoptive families who are committed and prepared to raise a child. The requirements of many agencies are based around the state adoption laws. These laws very state to state, so it’s important that you do thorough research on your own state’s adoption requirements.

That being said, the 5 most common concerns that would-be parents have about factors that may "disqualify" them from adopting a child include:

1.     Being too Young or too Old

Age may seem like an unfair adoption requirement since it is something that is out of your control, but like all adoption requirements, it’s designed with the adoptee’s best interests in mind. Most states require you to be a minimum of 18 years old to adopt.  In some states like Colorado or Oklahoma you must be 21, and in others 25. Many don’t have a specific age minimum at all.

On the other end of the spectrum, some agencies have a maximum age cutoff so that they can be sure that you will able to properly care for the child long-term.  While there are no laws stating a maximum age for adoption, many agencies will have cutoffs around the age of 50. You can find your state’s age requirements here.

2.     Health Issues that Impede Your Parental Abilities

While most common chronic health conditions like anxiety or diabetes won’t disqualify you from adopting a child, adoption agencies want to be sure that you will be physically and mentally capable of caring for your child long-term. As long as you are actively managing your illness and it doesn’t inhibit your ability to care for your child, your health will not disqualify you from being able to adopt.  With some life threatening illnesses such as cancer, some adoption agencies might have a requirement that you must be in remission for 3 months before adopting. This isn’t meant to be discriminatory, but more an insurance that you will be able to be around long term for your child and give them the proper care.

3.     Criminal History

A big factor in whether or not you qualify to adopt a child is if you have a criminal background. No matter which adoption agency you work with, all adoptive parents must complete a home study, which includes background checks. 

However, it isn’t always as cut and dry as being disqualified from adoption just because you have a criminal history.  In the case of a non-violent offense, your adoption professional might sit down with you to discuss the charge and why the offense happened.  Misdemeanor violent offenses may be evaluated on a case by case basis by a judge. If you have a history of violence against children, you will be immediately disqualified from adoption.

4.     Finances

Another deciding factor of whether you will be able to adopt or not will depend on your financial situation.  You don’t need to be incredibly wealthy to adopt a child or even debt-free, just financially stable.  As long as you have enough money to properly support a child as well as yourself, your financial situation will not disqualify you from adopting.  If you do currently find yourself in a situation where your financial situation may prevent you from adopting, this is something that could change down the line.

5.     Lifestyle

What constitutes a lifestyle that could disqualify you from adopting will vary agency to agency.  In previous years, one of the most common might have been if you were an LGBTQ parent/couple.  Fortunately, today you can adopt in all 50 states regardless of your sexual orientation.

However, some states there have legislation in place that makes it possible for private adoption agencies to deny same-sex couples who are trying to adopt, especially if they are faith-based. Some adoption agencies may disqualify you if you are single because most pregnant women considering adoption are looking for two-parent homes for their child.

Fortunately, most adoption agencies operate under open-minded ideals and will accept adoptive parents from all different backgrounds and lifestyles. What might be a disqualifying factor with one agency, may not apply to another. It’s important that you thoroughly research an adoption professional before working with them to ensure that they can meet your needs.

Creating a family of your own through adoption is a beautiful opportunity. It’s important that you do your own research of your state’s adoption laws and that you are familiar with the requirements of the adoption professional you choose.  If you’re worried about certain aspects of your life affecting your ability to adopt, reach out to an adoption professional to get more information about the adoption opportunities available to you.

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