Traditionally, adoption takes place when a married couple of reproductive age adopts a healthy child of the same ethnicity. But there are many alternative ways to adopt. With so many children in need of adoption, especially older and disabled children, agencies are willing to consider non-traditional adoptions. The final decision as to appropriateness, however, is always in the hands of the agency.
Age Requirement for Adoption
The minimum age for adopting a child from the United States varies according to individual state law, but it is usually 18. Sometimes, agencies will turn down prospective parents older than 40.
Single Parents Can Adopt
Although single parents can adopt, some agencies are slower than others to place children with single parents. Although the number of single-parent adoptions is increasing, it is easier for single women to adopt than single men. Some agencies will question why a single man would want to assume the job of fatherhood without a spouse.
Foreign Adoptions Can Be Complicated
If you want to adopt a child from another country, you'll have to meet both United States federal requirements and the requirements of the child's country of birth. You'll also have to meet your state's requirements. In some respects, it's easier to qualify as an adoptive parent abroad than in the United States. If you are unmarried, an agency may require you to be 25 years old to adopt from another country.
A Few States Don't Allow Same-Sex Adoption
Most states have updated their adoption laws to allow adoption by same-sex couples. This may depend on whether a parent wants to adopt the partner's biological or adopted child (about half of all states allow this), or if the same-sex couple wants to jointly adopt another child. A few states forbid adoption by same-sex couples under any circumstances. Even where same-sex-couple adoption is legal, the decision may come down to the opinion of the adoption agency involved.
Interracial Adoption Depends on Several Factors
Trends in interracial adoptions have swung back and forth over the years. In 1967, the Supreme Court ruled that it's unconstitutional to deny an adoption based on racial factors. There are no actual laws prohibiting interracial adoption. A few years after the Supreme Court decision, African-American organizations began working against the placement of black children in white homes. Black/white adoptions, especially those involving foreign children, are not as common as other interracial adoptions.
A Adoption Lawyer Can Help
The law surrounding special situations in adoption is complicated. Plus, the facts of each case are unique. This article provides a brief, general introduction to the topic. For more detailed, specific information, please contact a family law lawyer.