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Restrictions & Requirements

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There isn’t much that’s easy about adopting… except perhaps knowing that we want to be parents. And when we look to international adoption as an option, things can become even more challenging. There are dossiers, apostilles, translations, and more on the documentation side, and on the “who can adopt” front, it’s more complicated as well.


Adopting internationally requires that we observe the laws of the country where we live and the country from which we hope to adopt. Every country has requirements that prospective adoptive parents must meet, usually regarding age, income, number of existing children in the home, some indicator of marital stability (number of divorces, years married) and, in the case of single applicants, gender. And some countries have a few more unusual requirements. For example:
  • If you want to adopt from Korea, you cannot weigh more than 30% over the normal weight for your height when you work with certain agencies.
  • If you are single, male or female, forget about adopting from Armenia, Thailand, and Sri Lanka (among others). No single adoptive parents allowed.
  • If you want to adopt from St. Lucia, you don’t have to be a resident but you do have to own property on the island.
  • If Slovakia is your country of choice, you must maintain long-term residency in-country, and stay there during the entire adoption process, which can take a year or two.
  • If you want to adopt from Indonesia, a two year in-country residency before an application will be considered, and a belief in God are required.

Age Limits

One of the reasons many choose international adoption is that some countries have liberal age limits. Older persons, who may find domestic adoption presents too many hurdles due to the age factor, often turn to countries like Mexico, Russia, or Greece where the upper age limit is 60. Other countries, like Ukraine and Venezuela, have no statutory age limit; however, prospective adoptive parents are interviewed and their abilities to parent evaluated.

Always Changing

Recent years have seen a drop in the lower age limit from 35 to 30 for those who hope to adopt from China, but the number of applications being accepted from single persons has been cut back. Many countries with stringent requirements for those applying to adopt healthy children have more flexible requirements for special needs adoptions.

While these details of limitations and restrictions are interesting and can sometimes bring a smile, they serve as a reminder that those seeking to adopt internationally should make themselves aware of the laws and regulations, and include them in the decision-making process.

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Credits: by Nancy S. Ashe

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