Unlike divorce, child custody and child support matters, adoption is a family law process that rarely involves conflict. Placing a child in need of a family with a parent or parents to love, raise and support him or her is generally a win-win for everyone involved.
This is not to say that adoption is always quick and easy. The process can take a long time, and involve many complicated steps. Just determining whether you are legally qualified to adopt the child you want can be more than a matter of the size of your heart.
The rules of qualification differ from state to state, and especially from country to country, for cases of international adoption. But most consider some form of the following:
- Age range. Most of the time, the would-be parents must be at least 18. There is also usually a maximum age, often 50, though sometimes lower. Also, sometimes the age limit is waived, such as when the child is older or in foster care.
- Marital status. It is not necessary to be married to adopt a child, but married couples may have the largest number of divorce options.
- Finances. Adoption itself can be expensive, so saving up or borrowing money is usually necessary. Of course, raising a child also costs a lot of money, so it is important to be able to show you will be able to afford it.
- Stable employment. Among other things, this will show that you will have a steady income to pay for the child’s needs. It also demonstrates to the court that you are responsible and mature.
- Health. While disabled people are not automatically disqualified, in general you must show you are in good health, expect to live a long time and can manage the physical component of being a parent.
- Living arrangements. Authorities will probably be satisfied with a modest home, as long as it is clean and safe for a child.
- Criminal record. Beyond minor traffic infractions, any arrests or convictions on your record are likely to complicate things, especially if child abuse was involved.
By working with a family law attorney, you maximize your chances of navigating the process successfully and expanding your family.