Originally Posted By Christian
Can anybody provide information on how many years the age difference between adopive parent and child has to be in the U.S.? I appreciate Your help.
First off, in the U.S., individual states have the right to make laws concerning the adoption of American children from those states. There is a process called the Interstate Compact that exists to ensure that, if the prospective parent and the child to be adopted are in two different states, both sets of laws are respected. And in the case of American children being adopted by people from foreign countries that have ratified the Hague Convention on international adoption, there may be some federal requirements to protect the rights of the children, their birthparents, and their adoptive families.
Second, a person must have reached adulthood to adopt a child, anywhere in the world, so a person under 18, at the very least, would not be considered in any state. States and Individual agencies have the right to enforce more stringent requirements.
In the case of a married couple, agencies will want to see stability of the marriage, usually defined as at least one to three years of marriage. And in the case of both single and married persons, agencies will insist that they demonstrate, by education and employment history, that they have a steady and legal source of income, with a good chance of doing at least as well in the future. In general, that will mean completion of high school/GED and an employment history of a few years, so very young adults may not be able to qualify to adopt. (In a few cases, a high school diploma or GED may not be required, if there are other strong indicators that the person or couple will be able to support a child and encourage his/her education.)
Agencies also want to see prospective parents who are truly committed to adoption. With married couples under 25 or so, some agencies will want to see a documented history of infertility, as well as counseling or involvement in a support organization like RESOLVE to deal with the grief that often comes with such a diagnosis.. For singles and couples who are not infertile, some agencies will want to be confident that, should the parents have biological children in the future, they will not treat the adopted child as inferior; as a result, they may insist on a minimum age of 25, except possibly in the case of certain kinship adoptions or special circumstances.
In the case of singles and couples who want to adopt from a foreign country, they must also comply with the minimum age requirements of that country. As an example, China requires both spouses in a married couple, or a single person, to be at least 30 years old when they submit a dossier to the Chinese authorities. There are no exceptions, even in the case of special needs adoptions, so younger people will not be able to submit a dossier until they reach 30; this is true even if the couple's state or agency would normally allow younger people to adopt.
Third, in terms of the maximum age for adopting a child, it is usually not specified in state law. However, many agencies do have upper age limits. In some cases, but not all, there is flexibility. For example, if there is a couple with a 60 year old husband and a forty-five year old wife, adoption of even a young child may be permitted by some agencies if the couple has made certain arrangements in the event that the older parent becomes incapacitated or dies. As an example, if the couple is healthy, has good financial resources and good life insurance, and has guardianship arrangements in place in case both parents die while the children are minors, they may sometimes be permitted to adopt.
Again, with international adoption, Americans also have to comply with the laws of the foreign country from which they are adopting with regard to maximum age. Some countries are flexible, particularly with regard to people adopting older children; others, however, are not. At the time I adopted my daughter from China, the country allowed older single women to adopt, so I brought home my 18.5 month old daughter when I was 51.
In the U.S., most states do not appear to specify a maximum or minimum age difference between adult and child. However, agencies may. In general, such minimum or maximum age differences are based on the normal age differences in biological families, as well as common sense. As an example, a 21 year old would almost certainly not be allowed to adopt a 17 year old, because a 21 year old couldn't possibly have a bio child of that age. Also, there would be some suspicion that the relationship would not be that of parent and child, but rather some other, less healthy, situation. HOWEVER, on rare occasions, an independent 21 year old with a good income might be named temporary guardian of a 17 year old sibling, so that he/she would not need to enter foster care while a minor. And a single woman of 70, like me, would not be referred an infant, because it would be unreasonable to assume that, when I turn 90, I will still be able to meet his/her needs (Having adopted at 51, I have a child in college, while I am 70. It's doable, but I don't think I'd want to try it at 90, with occasional 3 a.m. phone calls coming in about homesickness, boyfriend problems, money issues, etc. And oh, those tuition bills; I do NOT want to be a full-time worker at 90.)
Some foreign countries do have formal requirements regarding the difference in age between adoptive parents and their children. Again, some are flexible, but others are not. Also, some base the age difference on the age of the younger parent, or of the mother, while others may look at the ages of both parents.
Perhaps if you indicate what your specific concerns are, people might be able to give you more specific advice.