Adoption is for celebrities, the rich, and those who can’t have children. This was always my train of thought when it came to understanding who could adopt. It was clear in my mind that people who could not adopt were criminals, same-sex couples, generally normal people, and those with minimal finances. However, time and adoption laws have changed for the better! So many who could not adopt before are now able to see through the dream of welcoming a child into their home. The list of who can adopt is now much longer than the list of who cannot adopt, though those who cannot adopt may still vary from state to state and country to country.
According to the website, Lifelong Adoptions, “Same-sex couples in all states can petition for joint adoption statewide. Couples may be required to be in a legally recognized relationship, such as a marriage, civil union, or domestic partnership. States that explicitly allow same-sex couples to petition for a second parent adoption include California, Colorado, Connecticut, Washington D.C., Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Montana, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and Vermont.”
For anyone who wants to adopt with a criminal record, there are some very general guidelines. Even those with felonies may be eligible to adopt. One’s eligibility to adopt largely depends on the nature of the crime. If someone has been convicted of a crime involving domestic violence, child-related crimes such as abuse or neglect, or if they have committed a crime against the elderly or disabled, they will likely not be eligible to adopt. It is also important to note, if your partner or an adult in your household has been convicted of one of these crimes, this may also render you ineligible to adopt until you are not in that living situation any longer.
Many states have age requirements to adopt. This also applies to kinship adoption. According to information provided by American Adoptions, “In six states (Kentucky, Louisiana, Montana, New Jersey, Tennessee, and Washington), adoptive parents must be 18 years old to adopt a child. In three states (Colorado, Delaware, and Oklahoma), adoptive parents must be 21. And finally, two states (Georgia and Idaho) require adoptive parents to be 25 years old. Some states (California, Georgia, Nevada, New Jersey, South Dakota, and Utah) require the adoptive parents to be at least 10 years old than the adopted child. All other states do not specify a minimum age to be eligible to adopt.”
There may also be qualifications for adopting a child that aren’t necessarily legal issues, but issues nonetheless. Each hopeful adoptive parent needs to participate in a home study in order to be approved to adopt. This home study involves many personal questions and forms that need to be filled out. One of these forms is a medical form for every member of the household. The adoption assessor wants to be sure that no one has any medical issues that hinder their care of a child or take away from the care and financial support of the child. The best way to find out if your condition or your family member’s condition would be an issue is to be up-front and ask the assessor about it before they go over your medical forms. You don’t want to be thousands of dollars into an adoption and find out there is an issue.
The home study in general, while not common, may disqualify a person from adoption. Don’t fret! The adoption assessor is not looking for ways to fail you. They want children to have the chance at adoption and families to have the chance to adopt. However, if the assessor feels that your home is not the right fit for a particular child or that the home or persons in the home should not adopt, they reserve the right to not pass the home study. This can range anywhere from a criminal record, safety issues in the home, to displeasure with disciplinary practices.
When searching for an adoption agency, ask questions. Find out what they expect from you and what they want from those in your homes. It is key to do your research into anything you think might be an issue before putting in any time and money.
Lita Jordan is a master of all things “home.” A work-from-home, stay-at-home, homeschooling mother of five, she has a BA in Youth Ministry from Spring Arbor University. She is married to the “other Michael Jordan” and lives on coffee and its unrealistic promises of productivity. Lita enjoys playing guitar and long trips to Target. Follow her on Facebook.