Adoption Age Requirements: How Old Must You Be to Adopt a Child?

By RedWallPPC
February 9, 2024

Finding a child to adopt in Florida is easy. According to the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS), 9,046 children were awaiting adoption in the state as of 2021, and only 3,938 children found forever families that year.  

The first question many parents considering adoption ask is, “How old do you have to be to adopt?” Florida does not have a minimum age requirement, but many agencies do. Read below to learn about this and other adoption requirements.

How Old Do You Have to Be to Adopt?

Florida does not have a minimum age requirement, but many professional organizations set age requirements. Foster care adoptions have a 21-year minimum. They don’t specify the reason, but it is easy to speculate.

They are putting the life of a child into the care of someone who must now dedicate their time to meeting that child’s physical and emotional needs until the child reaches adulthood. You must have sufficient finances to afford the cost of raising a family, including food, shelter, clothing, and educational needs.

Pew Research found that in 2021 only 39% of 21-year-olds had full-time employment, compared to 64% in 1980. Other milestones for adoption, such as financial independence and living independently, still need to be achieved.

On the other end of the age spectrum, some agencies establish a maximum age to adopt a child. The idea is that adoptive parents must have the energy and good health to raise a child into adulthood.

Single vs Married

Single parents may adopt as long as they meet adoption eligibility requirements. Florida does not mandate marriage as a requirement, but some agencies require adoptive parents to be married. International adoptions may require children from their country to go to a married family.

Based on the Obergefell v. Hodges (2015) decision, same-sex adoption in Florida is available and protected. States must recognize same-sex marriages as valid, but not all agencies support this. 

Disqualifying Criteria

Adoption process qualification steps include passing a background check. Things that may disqualify you include felony convictions within the past five years for assault and battery, child abuse or neglect, resisting arrest, sexual misconduct, violence, or drug-related charges. You may qualify if it is over five years since the conviction.

Other disqualifying factors include an unstable financial or home situation, substance abuse, an unstable relationship, or health concerns. The Florida law bars discrimination against people with physical disabilities who want to adopt and can function as an effective parent. The Florida State Bar Association offers a pamphlet regarding Florida adoption requirements.

Welcome Your New Child

After receiving adoption approval and finding your forever child, you’ll want to prepare your home for their arrival. Notify close friends and family of the upcoming adoption. Depending on the child’s age, you may need to childproof the house.

For older children, provide a welcoming bedroom and be ready to provide emotional support as they adapt to their new life in your home.

Locate Adoptable Children

Knowing how old you have to be to adopt makes selecting this rewarding method of growing your family a little easier. Attorney Jeanne T. Tate’s love of adoption law led to the creation of Heart of Adoptions, Inc.

All staff are professionals providing various adoption services to expectant parents and those wishing to adopt. Call 1-800-GO-ADOPT or text 877-202-9624 to begin the adoption process.