Adoption laws and regulations can be confusing. Do you have to be married to adopt a child? Learn what the process involves here.
In 2020, over 95,000 children were adopted in the United States. Adoption serves as an amazing way to start or grow a family when certain obstacles prevent you from doing so otherwise. For example, a couple who struggles with infertility might not be able to conceive a child on their own.
However, not everybody understands the adoption process or the adoption laws they need to navigate. Many people ask “Do you have to be married to adopt?” Let’s explore the answer in detail below.
Do You Have to Be Married to Adopt?
In most circumstances, any adult who is single or married can adopt the child. Certain situations require a married husband and wife to petition jointly for adoption. Some states allow individuals to adopt their partner’s children as long as their partner has custody.
There are many unique circumstances regarding adoption you should keep in mind. For example, a married person could potentially adopt a child as a single individual if they are legally separated from their spouse. The same can be said about someone married to a partner who is legally incompetent.
Depending on the state you live in, you either need to be at least 18, 21, or 25 years old to adopt a child. Certain state regulations dictate the adopting individual must be at least 10 years older than the person they adopt. At times, this restriction is increased to 15 years.
Most states don’t have policies regarding whether same-sex couples can adopt. To answer the initial question, you sometimes have to be married to adopt a child.
Can Adults Be Adopted?
Yes, they often can. A handful of US states allow the adoption of a person regardless of their age. Some states have no age maximum on who can be adopted but require the adoptive parent to be older than the adopted person.
Certain states only allow you to adopt an adult if that person has been diagnosed with a total intellectual or physical disability. In most situations, it’s more difficult to adopt an adult than it is to adopt a child.
How to Adopt
Before you can move forward, there are certain attributes of the adoption process you need to consider. These dictate the path you’ll take and will influence your experience. Let’s explore these in detail below.
Prospective adoptive parents often consider choosing a child from a foster home. It’s important to understand that these children may come with special needs, as kids are often in foster care due to suffering trauma or neglect.
Parents who don’t have the time or resources to manage situations like these should avoid choosing this option. It’s recommended for those who select foster adoption to take advantage of training resources. These will help prepare you for lifestyle changes.
Domestic Infant Adoption
This is one of the most popular forms of adoption in the United States. Many people prefer to adopt a newborn child as opposed to a toddler or teenager. To do so, you’ll need to work with an adoption agency or an adoption lawyer.
An agency will manage most adoption responsibilities for you throughout the process. This makes it a good option for those who don’t have the time to find a child on their own. In contrast, working with an adoption lawyer leaves you with a few more obligations.
This is a good choice for those who want to be heavily involved in the process. A reputable lawyer can determine your eligibility and make it easier to navigate adoption regulations.
Regardless of which option you choose, you should budget appropriately. Adopting a child often costs thousands of dollars, so ensure you have the money to do so.
Your potential for international adoption will depend on what countries you intend to adopt from. Some places have adoption programs that are no longer active or available to US adoptive parents. Others have regulations on who can adopt.
To clarify, people of a certain sexual orientation, age, or marital status may not be able to adopt a child from certain countries. In some cases, even your body mass index can affect your eligibility.
Consider your lifestyle and search for a country that you can receive approval from. The international adoption process often takes longer than domestic adoption, so be prepared.
Finding an Attorney
When searching for a lawyer, it’s imperative that you check their past reputation. This will provide insight into the results you’ll get from working with them.
They should specialize in this area of law, as well. Just because a lawyer can help you with a private adoption doesn’t mean that they have the same level of experience as a specialized attorney.
Ask about their payment structure before making your decision. In general, it’s best to avoid attorneys that bill by the hour. They often charge for menial tasks, such as responding to emails.
The end result is getting a bill that far exceeds your expectations. Instead, choose an attorney that charges a flat fee for their services. You should also ask for an itemized breakdown so you know exactly what you’re paying for.
Are they easy to communicate with? If you don’t comfortable speaking with them or if they aren’t easy to get in touch with, continue your search elsewhere.
Be wary of attorneys that delegate your situation to other lawyers at the firm. Since it’s so important to meet with a lawyer before hiring one, the last thing you want is to find out that someone you’ve never met is helping you with the adoption process.
Consider Adoption For Your Family
Adoption can improve the lives of everyone involved. Not only will you provide a home to a child in need, but you can add to your family (or even start your own). Just be sure to remember the above answer to “Do you have to be married to adopt?”
Johnson/Turner Legal proudly serves various locations in Minnesota, such as Minneapolis, Maple Grove, and St. Paul. Speak with a representative today to see how we can help. Our professional staff is ready to get you one step closer to adopting a child.