Two parents holding a baby in a hot air balloon; symbolizing the pathway to adopting a child.
Shopping Around

Top 5 requirements for adopting a child

Shopping Around

Top 5 requirements for adopting a child

Qualifications for adopting a child aren’t as complicated as they may seem.

Adopting a child can be a rewarding experience for both parent and child. And many people would agree. One in 25 people in the US have an adopted child. Despite adoption being a part of a lot of families, there’s still a lot of confusion about the process and the requirements for adoption. So if you’re wondering, “what do you need to have to adopt a child?” then we’ve got you covered.

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  1. What do you need to adopt a child?
  2. What else do you need to know?

What do you need to adopt a child?

Medical & emotional

Adopting a child comes with a lot of challenges. So agencies want to make sure you can meet any issues head-on. You’ll need to be at least 21 years old and physically sound. Most agencies may require a physical of the adoptive parent(s) and/or other household members. The physical may include recording of height, weight, blood work, medications, chronic conditions, etc.

If you have a serious medical condition, physical or psychiatric, that alone won’t keep you from being able to adopt. Some agencies may just require you to provide extra documentation or statements from doctors. It’s all to make sure you’re sound enough to care for a child.

Criminal history

All US states, as well as territories like Guam and Puerto Rico, have background check requirements for prospective adoptive parents. This includes state and federal criminal checks for history of child abuse, sex offender status, adult protective services, and domestic violence, among others. The prospective adoptive parent(s) will be immediately disqualified if a criminal record check finds instances of:

  • Child abuse and/or neglect
  • Spousal abuse
  • Crime against a child
  • Violent crime re: rape, sexual assault or homicide
  • A felony conviction within the past 5 years

If you’ve been arrested in the past, but aren’t immediately disqualified, you may have to provide personal statements speaking to the nature of the arrest.


Adopting a child is not cheap. And that’s before you have to, y’know, actually raise a child (which isn’t cheap). Adoptions can cost anywhere between $15,000 to $45,000 depending on the method (independent or agency). And the average cost of raising a child through the age of 17 is $233,610. That’s a lot of chicken nuggets.

Your overall financial situation will be part of the adoption home study. Some agencies will look at your income, family assets, credit history, and monthly living expenses, among others. You don’t need to be wealthy to adopt; agencies just want to make sure you can financially care for a child.

Home environment

Adoption agencies will conduct home visits to make sure you can provide a safe environment for a child. They’ll look to make sure you have things like working smoke alarms, safe water, adequate space for children, etc. They’ll also look out for any kind of hazards that, while not dangerous to an adult, could prove harmful for a child. Hazards such as dangling curtain cords or unsafely-stored household cleaners could be much more dangerous for young kids.

Parenting & adoption education

Many adoption agencies require prospective adoptive parents to go through pre-adoption training. The training types vary from agency and state to state. Some even train entire households, not just parents. If you’re thinking of adopting, it’s good to stay up to date on the pre-adoption educational standards of where you live.

What else do you need to know?

Three images on further actions to take when you want to adopt a child:  do your research  talk to other parents  consider life insurance

Do your research

There are a couple of ways to adopt a child. You can do it independently, which means the adoptive parents work directly with the birth mother, without an agency or agency fees. The other way is working with a licensed child-placing agency. If you want to go with an agency, make sure you do your research. Check up on their processes and see what’s being said about them. The requirements for adopting can vary from agency to agency, so knowing exactly what you’ll need will make the process smoother.

Talk to other parents

If you know other parents who have adopted, think about chatting with them about their experience, both before and after the adoption. We can give you all the lists in the world, but other parents will have more working knowledge and experience.

Think about getting life insurance

A life insurance policy is about covering those we care about most, especially kids. A term life policy can go a long way to ensuring that, should the worst happen, you can continue to take care of your child even after you’re gone. Whether it’s thinking about your child’s education or just helping to clear out debts, term life insurance can be a great tool in the parenting toolbox. If you don’t yet have a policy, check out our Wysh Builder to start building your coverage today!

The opinions we expressed in this post are for general informational purposes only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations.