Can You Adopt a Child If You Have Mental Health Issues?

Can You Adopt if You Have Mental Issues?

Mental illness is a widespread issue among many individuals. Can you adopt a child if you have a mental health issue?

You may still be able to adopt a child if you have a mental health issue. However, some mental health issues may be considered disqualifiers. Moderate depression and anxiety are common mental health issues, and with treatment should not prevent your adoption eligibility. We discover more.

Each prospective adoptive parent is unique with their own set of circumstances that will need to be taken into consideration before knowing if their mental health issue will disqualify them from adopting a child.

We will cover the following in this article:

  • Can you adopt a child if you have depression?
  • Can you adopt if you have bipolar disorder?
  • Can you adopt if you have anxiety?

In the United States, medication for mental illnesses is a thriving and profitable business. There seems to be a magic pill for everything, and there is more about this on Scientific American.

It is true that there are mental health issues that most certainly can be helped by the use of a prescribed medication.

And what about addictions like smoking? Can I adopt if I smoke?


Related Article: Have you ever wondered if adoption birth certificates look different than other birth certificates? Do Adoption Birth Certificates Look Different? FAQs is an enlightening write up that is worth a read.


If you have a mental health issue and have not yet reached out for help, you are strongly encouraged to do so. Speak to your general care physician, a nurse, or call a helpline.

NAMI Helpline can be reached at 800-950-6264 Monday thru Friday EST. If you feel more comfortable, you may email info@nami.org.

Let’s take a look at some specific examples to see if you may or may not be able to adopt a child with a mental health issue.

Can you adopt a child if you have depression?

Depression is common, yet some cases of depression can be debilitating. So, can you adopt a child if you have depression?

You may still be able to adopt a child if you have depression. Mild to moderate cases of depression can be corrected with lifestyle changes, counseling and/or medication. More severe cases of depression may or may not disqualify you from adopting a child.

If you are suffering from depression or have suffered from depression in the past, you will more than likely have been prescribed medication. Antidepressant medication has been shown to help many who are suffering from depression.


Antidepressants and psychological therapies – of which the most frequently used is CBT (cognitive behavior therapy) – have similar success rates. Around 60% of people respond by about two months to the drugs with about a 50% reduction in their symptoms – an improvement in mood, better sleep and so on. But, he said, “about 80% of people stop antidepressants within a month”.

Courtesy of The Guardian


If depression is something that you struggle with, getting help to address your depression would be the first recommendation.

Finding help to address any mental struggle puts you in control and shows you will do whatever possible to not let your depression consume you.

Once you know your depression is under control, be upfront with your adoption liaisons about your mental struggles, explain how you have taken control and have addressed the issue by reaching out for help.

For those whose struggle with severe depression, further help from a counselor and the appropriate medication may be your best route before trying to adopt a child.

A birth mother will want to feel confident that the adoptive parent they choose to adopt their baby will be fully able to love, nurture, and provide for her child in all ways possible.

Can you adopt if you have bipolar disorder?

Many people suffer from a bipolar disorder, but can you adopt if you have a bipolar disorder?

Adoption agencies may not accept a prospective parent who suffers from a bipolar disorder, because unpredictable highs and lows would likely effect a child. Those suffering from bipolar many times go off of their medications. When medication has stopped, significant manic episodes are likely.

Unpredictable mood swings or engaging in risky behaviors such as suicide or sudden bouts of rage and anger are likely with someone suffering from a bipolar disorder.

This is not to say that an adoption agency will not accept your application to adopt a child. Being upfront and honest from the very beginning earns the prospective parent respect from the start.

Also, your bipolar disorder experiences may not have been as severe as others have experienced.

If you have suffered from a bipolar disorder for a good length of time and have a proven capability of keeping it under control, then it most certainly does not hurt to try the adoption process.

Not all bipolar sufferers experience bipolar to the same extremes.

Can you adopt if you have anxiety?

We all suffer from some level of anxiety, yet some people experience higher levels of anxiety than what is considered normal. Can you adopt if you have anxiety?

You can likely still adopt a child if you experience anxiety, as anxiety can be effectively treated with medication. Taking control of your anxiety is widely respected by others and is viewed as admirable. Denial of one’s mental health is when concern is due.

Public speaking can be a terrifying thought, and some just cannot do it. Fear grips them, and they physically cannot get on stage to speak in front of a large audience.

Yet some suffer from anxiety that far exceeds more common fears like public speaking.

As the Mayo Clinic explains, some common symptoms of anxiety are as follows:

  • Trembling
  • Hyperventilating
  • Feeling weak or tired
  • Difficulty controlling worry
  • Avoiding anxiety triggers, many times by not leaving the home

Like all other mental and medical issues, you will need to have spoken to your medical care provider who will acknowledge that you are capable and likely able to care for a child effectively and lovingly, and that your condition will not interfere with your status as a parent.

Before reaching out to an adoption agency, you will want to show that you have gone through all recommended and necessary steps to gain control of your mental health issue in hopes to show you are more than capable of effectively parenting a child.

Seeking help for a mental health issue is seen by others as a sign of strength. Hold your head up high knowing you are in control of the mental beast and show that you are confident it will not interfere with your desire to be a good, loving parent.