Who May Be Adopted?

General Requirements

Adoption is permitted in all states and territories of the United States of America. However some states have certain specific requirements.

Child must be under 18 years of age: Rhode Island, Indiana, Colorado, Northern Mariana Islands, American Samoa.
Child must be legally free for adoption: Wisconsin, Montana, Delaware, Connecticut, Guam, American Samoa
Child must be present in the state when the adoption petition is filed: Wyoming, Wisconsin, Texas, South Carolina, Colorado, Arizona, Virgin Islands, and American Samoa
Minimum Residency Requirement: Under Iowa law, the child must have lived in the prospective adoptive parents’ home for at least 180 days.

Age Requirements

In more than half of the states, the law allows adoption of any person regardless of age.
In Rhode Island, Northern Mariana Islands and American Samoa, the law allows the adoption of persons over 18 but less than 21 years old. A resident of West Virginia can adopt an adult.

Adoption of Adults

States impose restrictions on the adoption of adults. In Alabama and in Ohio, only adults who are mentally retarded or totally and permanently disabled can be adopted. A stepchild or a foster child in Ohio can also adopt an adult if the relationship was established when the child was still a minor.

In South Dakota, Illinois and Idaho, there must be a sustained personal relationship between the prospective adoptee and the adult to be adopted for a certain period of time (6 months – 2 years).

In Virginia, the law permits the adoption of an adult stepchild, nephew or niece if the person to be adopted has lived in the prospective adoptee’s home for at least 3 months prior to becoming an adult and there is a 15 year age gap between the two.

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