What Medical Conditions Prevent You From Adopting a Child?

One of the requirements of the adoption process is to participate in a complete physical exam with your doctor. You may be wondering, what medical conditions would prevent you from adopting a child?

You may adopt a child if you have a mental or physical illness providing your doctor or mental health care provider writes a letter of recommendation stating your mental or physical illness will not interfere with your ability to raise a child, and your life span will not be significantly shortened.

The first part of the adoption process begins with completing the home study process.

The home study process lasts for about three to six months and involves home visits with a caseworker, providing documents, filling out forms, and completing your physical exam.

If you have a mental or physical ailment, the process of adopting a child may be very intimidating.

The fear of rejection is very real, and, understandably, hopeful adoptive parents worry about being turned down for adoption.

Young lady looking out the window in deep thought.

What Medical Conditions Prevent You From Adopting?

No matter who you are, if you are initiating adoption proceedings, you are going to be a bit nervous about the approval process.

Add to that concerns about possibly being discriminated against based on your health or mental wellness, and that is enough to make anyone concerned.

There are countless medical and mental conditions that an enormous amount of people suffer from. Which ones, however, would prevent you from being able to adopt a child?

All prospective adoptive parents will be required to have a complete physical exam that will cover a very thorough look at your medical history, your eating habits, and your mental wellbeing. F

For physical ailments, your physician will be required to answer to whether or not he or she feels you are capable and fit to raise a child.

Those who wish to adopt a baby will have a greater challenge than those adopting an older child.

This is because birth mothers are provided countless hopeful adoptive parent profiles that they go through to determine who they wish to adopt their baby to.

It would be natural for a birth mother to overlook those with physical or mental ailments and instead choose prospective parents who are free of those particular conditions.

It does feel unfair, but it is a right the birth mother has when deciding who she wants to adopt her child.

With that said, some physical and mental conditions are minor and would not stop a birth mother from choosing prospective adoptive parents who suffered from them.

Regardless of the age of the child, you wish to adopt, adoption agencies will have their specific guidelines and qualifications you must meet to be approved to adopt a child.

So what then, are the illnesses that would prevent a hopeful adoptive parent from being accepted to participate in the adoption process?

Upon doing our research to find the answer to this question, we sadly found nothing specific. There was no list of illnesses to share with you to help you know what would be a disqualifier.

So, we decided to instead think about it this way. What matters is whether or not you are capable of raising a child, and whether or not your life span will be significantly shorter than the average person.

So if that is the case, let’s take a look at some of the most common physical and mental conditions, how they affect our life span, our physical capabilities, and if the particular ailment stands a chance of preventing one from being fit to raise a child.

Adoption can be very expensive, but there are ways to adopt more affordably, providing you have an open mind.

The Five Major Categories of Mental Illnesses

Courtesy of UPMC: Health Beat

  • Anxiety
  • Mood Disorders
  • Psychotic Disorders
  • Dementia
  • Eating Disorders

Many people avoid reaching out for professional help due to the stigma associated with mental conditions. If you are one of those who reached out, you may have been diagnosed with a particular mental condition.

So, the people who did not reach out for help and were therefore not given a label or diagnosis, does that mean they are more impressive to an adoption agency?

Does that make them better than those who were given a label or diagnosis by a professional?

For those who swallowed their pride and reached out for help, that action alone validates you are in your right mind for realizing something wasn’t right, and that you needed to reach out for help. That makes you look good, not bad.


There are approximately 40 million people who suffer from some level of anxiety. There are issues like the apprehension of public speaking or the fear of attending a job interview.

If not treated, this can manifest into panic attacks, nausea and headaches, obsessive thoughts, and even a fear of leaving the home.

Can Anxiety Exclude You from Adoption Eligibility?
The short answer should be no. If treated, anxiety, something most of us experience on some level, can be easily treated with medication and or counseling.

Would you consider adopting a child with special needs? Learn more here.

Mood Disorders (Such as Depression)

Common moods can include but are not limited to sadness, irritability, and a general case of the blahs. Yet, those who suffer from mood disorders have a more in-depth experience that far exceeds the common experiences.

As UPMC: Health Beat explains, nearly one in 10 adults suffer from a more sustained and serious mood disorder.

Conditions such as depression and bipolar are very real. With proper diagnosis and treatment, most of those living with mood disorders lead healthy, normal, and productive lives.

Can a Mood Disorder Exclude You from Adoption Eligibility?
One would like to think not, as, with treatment, one can live void of any negative issues and lead a healthy, normal, and productive life.

Psychotic Disorders

Schizophrenia is a serious brain disorder that affects both emotional and cognitive functions.

As UPMC: Health Beat explains, schizophrenia symptoms can include hearing voices, hallucinations, delusions, social withdrawal, incoherent speech, and abnormal reasoning.

Can a Psychotic Disorder Exclude You from Adoption Eligibility?
Yes, you may likely be excluded if you suffer from a psychotic disorder.

Schizophrenia would most certainly be viewed as a disqualifier when wanting to adopt a child. But then again, it is not for us to say. We can only speculate here.

What if you take depression medication? Can you still adopt? Will a mental health issue prevent you from adopting?


Alzheimer’s disease is a common form of dementia and involves changes in cognitive health involving memory loss and motor skills.

Can Dementia Exclude You from Adoption Eligibility?
Alzheimer’s is associated with a shorter life span as well as a slow decline in cognitive awareness, which will most surely prevent one from being able to effectively and confidently raise a child.

You will never know for sure if you do not try to adopt. The worst that can happen is that you are told you do not qualify. At least you tried.

Eating Disorder

Eating disorders encompass such things as anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating.

Can Eating Disorders Exclude You from Adoption Eligibility?
If an eating disorder happened in the distant past and is no longer an issue today, then perhaps that is not a disqualifier for adopting a child.

However, if this is an issue that is currently being addressed, this may or may not be a disqualifier for adopting a child. It is highly encouraging to find out for yourself so you know for sure whether you qualify to adopt a child or not.

We can speculate, but unless you try to adopt a child, you will never know.

The Five Major Categories of Physical Illnesses

We found a list of the top 10 physical illnesses that are prevalent in the United States, courtesy of USA Today. We have listed 5 out of the ten below. For the full list, visit USA Today.

  • Hypertension
  • High Cholesterol
  • Coronary Artery Disease
  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Substance Use Disorder


According to the National Institutes of Health, hypertension is most commonly known as high blood pressure, where blood flows through blood vessels or arteries at higher than normal pressures. It can be associated with advanced age, obesity, smoking, and stress. 

Can Hypertension Exclude You from Adoption Eligibility?
The good news here is that there are ways of reversing high blood pressure with medication, as well as diet and exercise.

We will not pretend to know if an adoption agency would disqualify you for having hypertension, but there are ways to take control so that high blood pressure doesn’t control your life.

Our advice is to make an attempt at being as healthy as you can be before beginning the adoption process.

High Cholesterol

When fatty deposits build in the vessels and arteries, it restricts blood flow. This can be very dangerous and may cause a heart attack or stroke. High cholesterol can be hereditary or caused by an unhealthy diet.

If you suffer from high cholesterol, make sure you are eating healthy and avoiding processed and high-fat foods. Medication will help, as well as a healthy lifestyle.

Can High Cholesterol Exclude You from Adoption Eligibility?
One would like to think that having high cholesterol would not disqualify you from adopting a child.

If however, you have reckless eating habits while at the same time knowing you have high cholesterol, that could spell disaster.

It may be suggested to get your cholesterol levels down before attempting to adopt a child so you are as healthy as you can be.

Coronary Artery Disease

High cholesterol, high blood pressure, and an unhealthy lifestyle can all damage the arteries. This damage can get to the point where it is then called coronary artery disease.

Those who suffer from coronary artery disease are at a much higher risk of a heart attack.

Can Coronary Artery Disease Exclude You from Adoption Eligibility?
As with any health ailment, we cannot speak for any adoption agency to say whether or not you would be disqualified from adopting a child.

With that said, one may speculate here that if your high blood pressure and cholesterol have gotten so bad that you are now suffering from Coronary Artery Disease, you may be turned down as a good candidate for child adoption.

Discuss with the doctor ways you can get back to being as healthy as you can be.

Type 2 Diabetes

When your blood sugar levels rise higher than normal, you have Type 2 diabetes. This disease is most often caused by being overweight and a lack of exercise.

Can Type 2 Diabetes Exclude You from Adoption Eligibility?
Luckily, Type 2 Diabetes can be reversed with a healthy diet and exercise.

If you have a desire to adopt a child, you should work on getting healthy before contacting an adoption agency. The healthier you are, the better chance you have of fulfilling your dream of adopting a child.

Substance Use Disorder

Overuse of alcohol, drugs, and prescription medications can all wreak havoc on your body as well as your mental wellbeing.

Not only does the body suffer from chemical abuse, but it also impairs driving and is likely to cause communication problems with others.

Can Substance Abuse Disorder Exclude You from Adoption Eligibility?
Substance abuse is a very serious disorder that not only creates severe health risks but has been known to break up families and other personal relationships.

If you are struggling with substance abuse, you are encouraged to reach out for help. Being as healthy as you can for a child should be your goal.

Don’t be too proud to reach out for help. Contact SAMHS or call 800-662-HELP for helpful resources in your area.

Ever wonder what would disqualify you from being allowed to adopt a child? Visit here for more information.

Can a Person in a Wheelchair Adopt a Child?

A person in a wheelchair can adopt a child and are capable of driving a vehicle, as well as loving and caring for children. A physical handicap in most cases will not prevent a capable, loving adult from effectively caring for a child.

They can still cook, clean, and parent as effectively as anyone else. Not allowing a person in a wheelchair to adopt a child, in our view at least, would be discrimination.

We are not an adoption agency and cannot speak for how an adoption agency would view a person with physical challenges adopting a child, but we feel that a wheelchair should not make any difference whatsoever.

Trina Greenfield - Adoption Author

About the Author:
Trina Greenfield is passionate about providing information to those considering growing their family. Trina does not run an adoption agency. Her website is strictly information-based, so she is able to provide unbiased, credible information that she hopes will help guide those along their journey.