What Will Disqualify You from Adopting a Child? A Must Read

Raising a child is a huge responsibility, so it is no wonder that there are adoption requirements that must be met in order to adopt a child. What will disqualify you from adopting a child?

You may be disqualified from adopting a child if you are viewed as too old, too young, or in a bad state of health. An unstable lifestyle could also disqualify you, as well as an unfavorable criminal background and a lack of financial stability. Having a record of child abuse will also disqualify you.

It’s natural to be concerned about what might disqualify you from adopting a child. Certain medical conditions may also be disqualifiers, so you will want to do your research and be prepared in advance for what is expected of you.. If you are considering adopting a child, you will want to research as much as you can about the requirements for the state in which you wish to adopt in.

You may also be interested in learning more about how mental health issues may effect your chances of adopting a child.

We will cover the following topics in this article:

  • Age Requirements to Adopt a Child
  • Criminal History and Adoption Disqualifiers
  • Financial Requirements to Adopt
  • Health Issues that Will Disqualify You From Adopting
  • Lifestyles that May Disqualify You From Adopting

Each state may vary with their individual set of requirements. Depending on which type of adoption you choose and the adoption agency you work with, these requirements can vary.

Below are links to articles covering the adoption requirements in each state listed here for your convenience.

We have also provided a table by state listing some basic requirements for quick reference near the bottom of this article.

As one would expect, there are requirements you must meet in order to adopt a child. These requirements are set into place to ensure that the child is being placed with a family that is qualified to care for them.

With the overflow of paperwork, the legal stipulations, and the mandates you must meet, the entire adoption process and can overwhelming.


Related Article: If you are considering adoption and have biological children, you may be wondering how to tell your biological children about the adopted child. Explaining Adoption to Your Biological Child: Crucial Tips


We will cover some of the most common reasons why someone may not qualify to adopt a child. The specifics of each of these categories, however, is dependent on the state in which you wish to adopt a child in.

There are very few other occasions when someone will feel as scrutinized and judged as when going through the adoption process.

There will most likely be a background check, as well as finger prints taken. If you meet the basic requirements, there will be a required home study to confirm that your household is fit for a child.


Related Article: Anyone going through the adoption application process will be required to have a home study. What is Adoption Home Study? Your Complete Guide


All of this on top of being judged by a potential birth mother who will get to pick and choose to whom she places her baby with.

We cannot begrudge the stringent mandates, as it is all being done in the best interest of the child.

Knowing what is required of you prior to starting the adoption process will help you be as prepared as possible.

Age Requirements to Adopt a Child

What are the age requirements to adopt a child?

Most states have a desired age range for adoptive parents of between 21 to 50, yet the minimum age requirement in most states is technically 18 years of age. Very few states have age-limit restrictions that legally says you are too old to adopt a child, but the bias still exists.

What matters the most is one’s ability to raise a child.

Yet there are naturally some very valid concerns about older adults adopting a child. Are you physically and mentally capable of raising a child?

Do you have escalating ailments that may in the near future get in the way of your good intentions?

Although most states do not have specified age limits, there are adoption agencies that choose their own adoption cut-off dates with regard to your age.

How flexible they are on where they stand with the age issue could depend from agency to agency.

If you are older and wish to adopt, you will want to ask yourself the following questions:

  • If you are retired, are you financially able to raise a child on retirement income alone?

  • Perhaps you have downsized after already raising a family. Do you have adequate space to start over again to raise a child?

  • How is your health, and do you lead an active lifestyle?

  • Are you physically and mentally capable of raising a child?

  • Do you have escalating ailments that may in the near future get in the way of your good intentions?

If you answered favorably to the above questions, then you are on the right track.

One thing I would like to point out here is that even though the state in which you plan to adopt in might not have a legal age cap to stop you from adopting a child, birth mothers tend to choose younger couples to place their baby with.

This does not mean, however, that an older couple would not be selected by a birth mother. This simply means that older adoptive parents tend to be on the waiting list for a longer period of time.

If you are older, you may want to consider becoming a foster parent. Qualifying to be a foster parent is a bit easier with less of an age dilemma for older adults wishing to become foster parents.

Are you too young to adopt a child?

It goes without saying only adults can adopt a child. Most states require you to at least be 18, yet some states require you be older.

For example, you must be at least 25 years of age in the state of Idaho and Georgia to adopt a child, and 21 years of age to adopt a child in Colorado and Delaware.

Adoption agencies may have their own age requirements, regardless of what the state requirements are.

Criminal History and Adoption Disqualifiers

Some people might feel apprehensive about having a background check done and fingerprints taken. You may be asking yourself, what on my criminal background check will disqualify me from adopting a child?

Criminal history that will prevent you from adopting a child would be convictions such as a felony conviction for child abuse or neglect, crimes against a child, a crime involving violence, physical assault, or homicide. Contact the state you wish to adopt in for more details.

Depending on the state you reside in will be your biggest determining factor in whether or not you will qualify to adopt a child.

Other convictions such as drug or alcohol-related offenses may require a certain amount of years to pass before you can be considered for the adoption process.

Having a negative mark on your record will not necessarily rule you out of the adoption process.

The best thing you can do is be as upfront and honest in your adoption application as possible. If you bring up the subject first, you will gain credibility and earn trust.

Perhaps you have something on your record from a long time ago, and you are not that same person anymore.

Financial Requirements to Adopt

It is true that adoption can be a very expensive process, however, that does not mean to imply that you must be financially well off to adopt a child. What are the financial requirements to adopt?

The financial requirements to adopt a child are that you are capable of supporting yourself and your adopted child, providing food, clothing, comfortable shelter, as well as other every-day expenses.

Struggling to make ends meet will not be comforting to an adoption agency who would worry you would not be able to meet the needs of the child.

If you are living pay check to pay check with no money left over for food, clothing, and other basic necessities, adopting a child would not be a feasibly good idea.

Having a mortgage, school debt, and other financial obligations are fine just as long as you have money left over to also take care of a child.

If you can show that you are stable with a means of bringing in a reliable and consistent income, then you are off to a good start.

Health Issues that Will Disqualify You From Adopting

Adoption agencies do not expect you to be in perfect health when you apply to adopt a child. What they do expect is that you are not suffering from an ailment that will hinder your ability to care for a child, and that you will be able to care for a child long-term. What health issues would disqualify you from adopting a child?

Health issues that would disqualify you from adopting a child are terminal illnesses or medical issues that would impair one’s physical or mental ability to care for a child long-term. Not all chronic illnesses, however, are disqualifiers.

Common illnesses like diabetes or mental illnesses such as anxiety are treatable, allowing you to care for a child’s needs.

And what if you smoke? Can you adopt a child if you smoke?

Most states require an up-to-date medical history to be provided to the adoption agency before an adoption can be approved.

Lifestyles that May Disqualify You From Adopting

There are no state laws prohibiting a particular lifestyle when it comes to child adoption. However, each adoption agencies is free to set their own requirements and guidelines to which types of lifestyles they feel comfortable with, and which ones they do not.

Lifestyles that may disqualify you from adopting through some adoption agencies are LGBT couples, those who travel a lot, and single adults wishing to raise a child alone. Viewpoints are gradually changing to accept what is viewed as not traditional.

Adoption agencies with religious funding may be against LGBT couples and choose not to adopt a child to them.

With that said, not all adoption agencies with religious ties discriminate based on physical orientation.

Hopeful adoptive parents who are single may also be disqualified with some adoption agencies. These same biases can happen when trying to adopt internationally, as well.

There are plenty of adoption agencies out there who would be more than happy to help you on your adoption journey are not discriminate based on your physical preference or because you wish to be a single parent.

A family, couple, or individual who wishes to adopt that travels all the time may not be appealing to some adoption agencies.

Do you plan on traveling with your child, or would you be leaving your child in someone else’s care while you are away? There may be a concern about the stability of the child’s environment when it is constantly changing around them.

These are all things to think about and to be prepared for.

Requirements by State Table

StateAge RequirementsLGBT LimitationsResidence Requirements
AlabamaAdultNoneNone
AlaskaAdult (for single-parent adoption)NoneNone
ArizonaAdultNoneMust be a resident
ArkansasAdult (for single-parent adoption)NoneNone
CaliforniaAdult and 10 years older than childNoneNone
Colorado21 and olderNoneNone
ConnecticutNoneNoneNone
Delaware21 and olderNoneMust be a resident
FloridaAdult (for single-parent adoption)NoneNone
Georgia25 and older and 10 years older than childNoneResident for 6 months
HawaiiAdult (for single-parent adoption)NoneNone
Idaho25 and older and 15 years older than childNoneNone
IllinoisAdultNoneResident for 6 months
IndianaNoneNoneMust be a resident, with exceptions
IowaAdult (for single-parent adoption)NoneNone
KansasAdultNoneNone
KentuckyAdultNoneResident for 12 months
LouisianaAdult (for single-parent adoption)NoneNone
MaineNoneNoneNone
MarylandAdultNoneNone
MassachusettsAdultNoneNone
MichiganNoneNoneNone
MinnesotaNoneNoneResident for 12 months
MississippiAdult (for single-parent adoption)NoneResident for 6 months
MissouriNoneNoneNone
MontanaAdult (for single-parent adoption)NoneNone
NebraskaAdultNoneNone
NevadaAdult and 10 years older than childNoneNone
New HampshireAdult (for single-parent adoption)NoneNone
New JerseyAdult and 10 years older than childNoneNone
New MexicoNoneNoneResident with exceptions
New YorkAdultNoneNone
North CarolinaAdultNoneNone
North DakotaAdult (for single-parent adoption)NoneNone
OhioAdult (for single-parent adoption)NoneNone
Oklahoma21 and olderNoneNone
OregonNoneNoneResident for 6 months
PennsylvaniaNoneNoneNone
Rhode IslandAdultNoneNone
South CarolinaNoneNoneReside with exceptions
South DakotaAt least 10 years older than childNoneNone
TennesseeAdultNoneResident for 6 months
TexasAdultNoneNone
UtahAdult and 10 years older than childNoneUnmarried, living together cannot apply
VermontNoneNoneNone
VirginiaNoneNoneNone
WashingtonAdultNoneNone
West VirginiaNoneNoneNone
WisconsinAdult (for single-parent adoption)NoneNone
WyomingAdultNoneResident for 60 days
Courtesy of Child Welfare Information Gateway. Helping Grow Families is not responsible for any inaccuracies with the information obtained in this Child Welfare Information Gateway article.

Perhaps you have a concern that you feel would make you ineligible to adopt a child. I would advise you to be as upfront as possible with the adoption liaison that you choose right away.

The sooner you bring any concerns to the surface, the sooner you can know for sure if would qualify to adopt a child.

The last thing you want is to get deeper into the adoption process when you have already committed a financial payment, then find out later after that money was spent that you will not qualify to participate in the adoption process.

And who knows, maybe whatever it is that you are concerned about will not disqualify you after all!