Friday, May 1, 2015

Age Requirements to Foster and Adopt

In my last post in conjunction with National Foster Care Month I listed links to information about requirements for fostering and adopting (Just in case somebody thinks, "I can't foster because I'm single/I don't own my own home/I'm gay, etc.)  

Good foster parents come from a variety of backgrounds but I believe the most important requirement or common denominator that effective foster parents share is that of love and concern for the well-being of children.

At the finalization of our recent adoption of our foster children I was reminded of a few legal requirements to adopt, having to do with age.  I mention these in case there is someone out there who thinks, "I'm too old to adopt." but also because I thought they were interesting.

Although things will vary by state, I think the general requirement is that you must be 21 years of age or older to foster or adopt.  This rule is sort of a no-brainer but I thought it was funny when the guardian ad litem at our children's adoption finalization turned to my husband and I and asked, "Both of you are 21 years of age or older, correct?"  We both answered in the affirmative and the GAL even admitted to being a little embarrassed to have to ask such an obvious question.  (Maybe 10 years ago I could have passed for 21 but now- not so much.)  She then asked another required question:  And are you both at least 10 years older than the children you're adopting?  (Which means we'd have to be at least 12 years old).  "Yes", we unequivocally responded.

I thought that was interesting because I've had people ask me more than once what the age limit is to adopt and the answer is "As long as you're in good health- there is NOT an age limit" provided you are at least 10 years older than the child you are adopting.  Therefore, a 25 year old could adopt a 15 year old but a 25 year old could not adopt a 16 year old.  

Another question which the judge asked both my husband and I separately at the adoption finalization is: 

"Do you give your consent to this adoption?" which is a necessary question but was also hard for me to fathom how two spouses could get to the point of being in a courtroom together for an adoption finalization in the first place when one of them does not actually consent to the adoption.  Perhaps this requirement stems from issues with step-parent adoptions.

I was also reminded that older children who are adopted must consent to the adoption. What an extremely important piece of legislation!  According to the Child Welfare Information Gateway, nearly all states requires that older children give their consent to be adopted with the requirements varying by state.

Although it didn't apply to our case, if the child(ren) we were adopting were 12 years of age or older they would have had to have given their verbal consent to the judge before being adopted by us.  In some states children as young as 10 years old must give their consent and in some states the age is 14 years old.  I have heard of sibling groups from the same family in foster care where some of the siblings chose to be adopted while other siblings preferred not to be adopted and technically "age out" of the system.

No comments: