Adoption can often seem like an impossible process to many people who are on the outside looking in. In full disclosure, while it is not as unachievable as it may seem, the process is quite overwhelming and complex. There are mounds of paperwork, legal systems, and qualifications to navigate. There are times in the adoption process where anyone might feel like giving up due to stress the adoption process can bring. It is understandable that some might see the adoption process as a process taken on only by those with seemingly perfect circumstances.

While there are many qualifications that each prospective adoptive parent will have to meet in order to be eligible to adopt, this is all done in order to keep children safe and to make sure that children are going into homes that they will be more likely to thrive. Not all of these qualifications have to do with safety, but rather many of them deal with the quality of life which children will have once they enter their forever home. Most of the qualifications are not anything that is difficult to meet. However, there may be some qualifications that the general public is unaware of or that many people would need to work to meet before they are able to be an adoptive parent. Some qualifications will have to do with things that are out of a person’s control or other circumstances that cannot be changed. 

Qualifications to adopt or foster a child will vary from state-to-state and from country to country. However, there are many common factors that each day or country will follow in general when deciding who can become eligible to foster or adopt a child. many of these factors will have to do with a person’s lifestyle, physical and mental health, and criminal past. Not every issue in each of these categories will disqualify someone from adopting or fostering a child. However, the home study process is done so that these issues can be addressed, and there can be an assurance that these factors will not affect a person’s ability to care for a child long-term.     


When a qualification to adopt or foster a child is something that we cannot control, it can seem sort of unfair. However, as noted before, all qualifications to foster or adopt a child are put in place for the safety and well-being of the child. At some point, there has to be an understanding that a person might become too old to care for a child. We also have to look at long-term care. While a person may be young enough to adopt or foster a child right now, how long will his quality of life allow him to care for a child to the extent that he needs to? This is a question that adoption and foster care professionals have to address for the sake of the children involved. However, foster care can often be more lenient with the age of a person seeking to care for children as foster care is meant to be short-term.

On the other spectrum of the age qualification, there is such a thing as being too young to adopt. As for any state or adoption agency, the minimum age to adopt will be at least 18 years of age. For many adoption agencies, they will set their own standards for the age which someone must be to adopt. For many of these agencies, they require that people be over the age of 25 to adopt. Other adoption agencies and states have a minimum age of 21 years of age to adopt. You would have to check your state laws and adoption professionals to determine the minimum age for which you can adopt or foster a child. 


Not every health issue that you come upon will disqualify someone from adopting or fostering a child. However, there is some expectation that you will be in good enough health to care for a child and to be around for the child long-term. Many adoption agencies and state agencies will have certain health requirements that they will expect prospective adoptive and foster parents to meet as a minimum guideline. They will also require them to report any changes if they are foster parents or if an adoption has not yet finalized. The type of health issues that will disqualify a person will vary from state to state and agency to agency. However, the major health issues to look for are terminal illnesses or illnesses that would have impaired a parent’s physical or mental ability to care for a child and provide long-term security.

Again, some people may have chronic illnesses that will not necessarily disqualify them from adopting or fostering a child. Many people have controlled or common illnesses such as diabetes or mental illnesses such as anxiety. Adoption professionals simply want to know that your illness can and is being managed. Most agencies will require a physical and a form from your doctor stating that you do not have any illness that would impede your ability to care for a child. If you have a chronic illness of any kind, your doctor will need to note that it is being managed. Some agencies will require a certain amount of years outside of treatment for some illnesses such as cancer or other potentially life-threatening illnesses. For example, some adoption agencies require you to be in remission from cancer for 3 years before you will be eligible to adopt a child. This is not discriminatory in any nature but rather just a way to ensure the chances are better that you will not face this trial while trying to take care of your new child. Medical crises are unpredictable but also incredibly expensive and time-consuming. The same can be said of adopting and fostering a child. Going through both at the same time could be crippling. You need to check with your state and adoption agencies for more information.

Criminal History

A major point of disqualification that would be the most talked about would be having a criminal history. However, it is not as well known that you can still have a criminal history and adopt or foster a child. It will depend on the type of adoption or foster care you are trying to pursue and the criminal charge that you have. It will also depend on how long ago the charge was and the requirements of your state’s adoption or foster agencies. I do not know of any adoption or foster care agencies that will allow anyone with any violent felony criminal history to adopt a child or to foster a child. However, if a violent offense is a misdemeanor that is not against protected groups such as children or the disabled, these may be considered on a case-by-case basis. If there is a charge for something like reckless driving, it may depend on how long ago the charge was. If there are nonviolent offenses that occurred a long time ago and offenses that do not involve felonies, many of these cases are looked at on a case-by-case basis.

No one who has a history of violence against a child will be considered for foster care adoption. No one who has a history of any charges relating to the neglect of a child will be allowed to foster or adopt a child. When you are going through the process of adopting or fostering a child, the child-placing agency will look into your background with child protective services. This includes a background that involves you as the victim. You will need to discuss any happenings in any cases that were produced. This includes cases that were found to be not valid. You will likely still need to discuss these cases with the child-placing agency and explain the circumstances. It could be an issue, depending on the circumstances.


Finances are what keep many people from adopting or fostering a child. It is a common belief that you need to be wealthy to adopt a child. However, adoption professionals are really looking for people who are financially stable. This is also true of people who are attempting to foster a child. You do not have to have a situation where you are debt-free, but any adoption or foster care professional will want to see that adding a child to your home will not become a huge financial burden for you. They want to make sure that the child will be taken care of and that you have enough money left over after paying bills each month to take on this responsibility. If you are struggling, your finances may disqualify you for a time. Struggling often looks just like living paycheck to paycheck and not having anything left over to buy food and clothing. My husband and I have a lot of school debt as well as a mortgage. This did not disqualify us from adopting by far. We are able to pay our bills each month and able to take care of our children. While our lack of wealth made us nervous, it definitely did not disqualify us, and our adoption professional did not really look into it much or seem concerned.


Lifestyle issues are tricky when it comes to foster care and adoption. What is considered an issue will vary from adoption agency to adoption agency. There are no general, federal laws against certain lifestyles when it comes to adoption or foster care. However, you may find there are adoption agencies that do not cater to some lifestyles such as same-sex couples. These agencies tend to be more private agencies that have religious funding. However, not all religious agencies discriminate based on sexuality. You may also find that there are agencies that will not accept anyone who is single. These qualifications may be true of different countries as well. This does not disqualify you from adopting in general, but it may disqualify you from being accepted by a certain agency or foster care placing agency. You may also not be able to adopt from a certain country. With this, you would just need to search for an agency within your area that does accept you or seek to adopt from a country with more lenient qualifications. 

Some agencies may frown upon a family that travels a lot, wanting stability for children. This may disqualify you from adopting with a certain agency or from adopting a certain child but may not disqualify you from using a certain agency altogether. While most adoption agencies and foster placing agencies will consider many different lifestyles, it is best to ask your agency upfront if there’s any concern or any variation in your lifestyle. This can help you save time and money by finding an agency that will best serve you.

Chances are if you’re reading this article that you have some concern that a certain situation in your life may disqualify you from adopting or fostering a child. With that, it is great that you have taken the time to see if this may disqualify you or what you need to do in order to qualify. The best first step for you to take will be to reach out to your local child-placing agencies and discuss your situation with them. If you have already applied to be a foster or adoptive parent, do not hide anything from these agencies. They will eventually find out, and it will just waste your time and your money. If you are upfront, it can be handled straight away, and it is better to know than to find out further on in the process. You can certainly check for information in your state about what might disqualify you from adopting or fostering a child. You can also contact your state and local child-placing agencies. Most child-placing agencies will be happy to answer any questions and let you know right off the bat if anything would disqualify you from adopting or fostering a child. When in doubt, it is best to be upfront and to seek answers before proceeding. You may find that any issue you think may disqualify you would not be as big of a deal as you would think.