While adopting a child while you are a student is uncommon, it’s not totally unheard of — and it is a whole lot more difficult than approaching the situation later in life when you are more settled. The trick to adopting while you are in school is to tailor the kind of adoption that you embark on, and getting home-study approved.

The home-study, where you work with an agency or a social worker to become approved to adopt, focuses a lot on stability and finances—two areas that may be tricky for a university student. You would need to prove that you live in your own home or apartment — no roommates and that you have a stable income, health care, and a relatively set schedule. You also would need, for many private and international adoptions, to be at least twenty-five years old. There may be more wiggle room for a student if you look into foster care, rather than a traditional private or international adoption, especially if you seek to foster an older (older than a newborn) child or sibling group.

Once you pass the home-study and get approved on paper you will likely wait a while longer than a more traditional couple in a private or international adoption. If you are chosen by birth parents, or if you are placed with a foster child you will also find it to be more difficult than a couple or single parent not in school—the first year may be really rough on your study time.

Despite all of the initial difficulties, it can be done—but if this seems too daunting don’t fear! There are lots of ways you can help kids and stay in school: check out your local Boys and Girls club, look into becoming a Big Brother or Big Sister, or get involved volunteering at local youth facilities. You may not be able to become a parent right away, but you will still be able to share your love!

Written by Jennifer Galan.