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Who May Be Adopted

All States, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. territories permit the adoption of a child. Three States (Colorado, Indiana, and Rhode Island), American Samoa, and the Northern Mariana Islands specify that the child must be under age 18. Four States (Connecticut, Delaware, Montana, and Wisconsin), American Samoa, and Guam specify in statute that the child must be legally free for adoption. Six States (Arizona, Colorado, South Carolina, Texas, Wisconsin, and Wyoming), American Samoa, and the Virgin Islands require that the child to be adopted must be present in the State at the time the petition is filed. Iowa requires that the child must have resided for a minimum period of 180 days in the home of the prospective adoptive parents.

Approximately 26 States and the District of Columbia allow the adoption of any person, regardless of age. Rhode Island, American Samoa, and the Northern Mariana Islands allow parties to petition the court for the adoption of persons over age 18 but under age 21. Nevada specifies that the adult to be adopted must be younger than the adoptive parent, and West Virginia allows a resident of that State to adopt an adult.

Alabama restricts adoption of adults to persons who are permanently and totally disabled or mentally retarded. Ohio allows adoption of an adult only when the person is permanently disabled, mentally retarded, or a stepchild or foster child with whom the relationship was established while the child was a minor. Idaho, Illinois, and South Dakota require that the adopting parent be in a sustained parental relationship for a specified period of time, ranging from 6 months to 2 years, with the adult to be adopted. Virginia allows the adoption of an adult stepchild, niece, or nephew, as long as the adopted person resided in the home for at least 3 months prior to reaching adulthood and is at least 15 years younger than the adopting parent.

Information provided by the National Adoption Information Clearinghouse.