This list includes States in which stepparents are mentioned in the "Who Can Adopt" statutes summarized in Adoption Laws: Answers to Most-Asked Questions, published in 1995 by the National Adoption Information Clearinghouse. The Clearinghouse publishes this as a service to the adoption community, but it can never serve as a replacement for legal advice from a licensed attorney practicing in the field of adoption in the State(s) where both the potential adoptive parent(s) and the child(ren) to be adopted reside. We also cannot guarantee accuracy; changes in State law may have occurred since the research was conducted.
Alaska A single adult, a husband and wife together, or the unmarried father or mother of the child can adopt. Married persons can adopt without their spouse's consent if the spouse wanting to adopt is a stepparent, or they are legally separated, or if failure of the other spouse to join the adoption is excused by the court.
Arkansas Any single adult, husband and wife jointly, even if one or both are minors, and the unmarried father or mother of the adoptee can adopt. A married person, without the spouse joining, can adopt if the adoptive parent is the stepparent and the other spouse consents, the spouses are legally separated, or the court has excused the spouse from consenting to the adoption.
California Any adults can adopt, as long as they are at least 10 years older than the adoptee. A court may waive the 10-year requirement ifthe adoption is by a stepparent or relative and if it is in the child's best interest. If a spouse wants to adopt, the other spouse must give consent, unless they are legally separated.
Colorado Any person who is at least 21 years of age, including a foster parent, may adopt. A minor, with court approval, may adopt. A married couple must jointly petition to adopt, unless they are legally separated or one parent is the natural parent of the child or has previously adopted the child.
Connecticut Any adult person may adopt. Married persons must adopt jointly, unless the court approves an adoption agreement by either one of them alone. The court shall not disapprove any adoption solely because of the adopting parent's marital status, or because of difference in race, color, or religion between the adoptive parent and the adoptee. The sexual orientation of the adoptive parents may be considered, but no specific orientation will be required.
District of Columbia Any person may adopt. A husband and wife must file jointly to adopt, unless the person is a stepparent; then the natural parent need not join in the adoption.
Florida The following people whose primary residence and place of employment are in Florida may adopt:
Georgia Any adult person, including a foster parent, may adopt a child, if the person is at least 25 years old or is married and living with his or her spouse; is at least 10 years older than the child; has been a resident of Georgia for at least 6 months before filing to adopt; and is financially, physically, and mentally able to have permanent custody of a child. Married persons must adopt jointly, unless the person who wants to adopt is the stepparent; then that person can file to adopt alone.
Hawaii Any single adult or stepparent may adopt, or a married couple may jointly adopt.
Idaho The person adopting a child must be at least 15 years older than the adoptee, or 25 years of age or older, unless the adopting parent is a stepparent. The adoptive parent must have lived in the State for at least 6 consecutive months. The age restrictions cited above do not apply if the adoptee is an adult and the adoptive parent shows that a substantial relationship as parent has been maintained for more than one year.
Illinois A reputable adult of either sex who has lived in Illinois for at least 6 months may adopt. If the adoption is through a public child welfare or licensed child welfare agency or is a relative adoption, then the 6-month residency requirement does not apply. If the person is married, her or his spouse must file jointly, even if a stepparent is seeking to adopt. A minor may also adopt if the court finds good cause for it.
Indiana Any person can adopt. A married couple must adopt jointly, unless the person seeking to adopt is the stepparent. In a stepparent adoption, the natural parent, who is the spouse of the stepparent, does not have to join the petition.
Iowa Any unmarried adult, or a husband and wife jointly, can adopt. A spouse can adopt separately if he or she is the stepparent of the adoptee, if he or she is separated from his or her spouse, or if the other spouse is unavailable, incapacitated, or has unreasonably withheld consent to the adoption.
Kansas Any person can adopt. A married couple must adopt jointly, unless the person seeking to adopt is the stepparent. In a stepparent adoption, the natural parent, who is the spouse of the stepparent, does not have to join the adoption.
Kentucky Any adult who has lived in the State for 1 year may adopt. A husband and wife must file to adopt jointly, unless the judge allows an exemption, or unless the party wishing to adopt is a stepparent.
Louisiana A single person 18 years of age or older can adopt. Amarried couple jointly can adopt, unless the person seeking to adopt is astepparent; then she or he can adopt without the spouse joining.
Maryland Any single adult, a husband and wife jointly, a stepparent, and a spouse that is divorced or separated may adopt a child.A court shall not deny an adoption solely because the petitioner is single.
Montana The following parties may adopt:
Nebraska Any single adult can adopt. A husband and wife must jointly adopt, unless the adoptive parent is a stepparent. In that case the spouse, who is the natural parent, does not have to join the adoption.
New Hampshire Any single person who is neither a minor nor a homosexual may adopt. A husband and wife may adopt together; however, one spouse may adopt without the other spouse if they are legally separated, if one spouse is unreasonably withholding consent to the adoption, or if one spouse is the natural parent. In addition, foster parents may adopt.
New Mexico Only New Mexico residents may adopt. An unmarried adult may adopt and a married person, whether an adult or minor, may adopt. However, a married person must adopt jointly with his or her spouse unless they are legally separated, the failure of the nonjoining spouse to join is excused by the court, or it is a stepparent adoption.
New York Any adult unmarried person or an adult husband and wife jointly may adopt. Any adult married person who is living separately pursuant to a legally enforceable separation agreement may adopt alone, as long as the person being adopted is not his stepchild. A minor spouse may adopt his or her own or the other spouse's child who was born either in or out of wedlock.
North Carolina Any person over 18 years of age who has lived in North Carolina for 6 months may adopt. A husband and wife must jointly adopt, unless the person seeking to adopt is the stepparent; then the spouse does not need to join in the adoption. If the prospective adoptive parent is the biological parent or stepparent, this person may adopt even if he or she is younger than 18 years of age.
North Dakota Any unmarried adult, or the unmarried father or mother of the adoptee may adopt. In addition, the following people may adopt without their spouse: a stepparent, a person who is legally separated, and a person whose spouse is excused by the court due to that spouse's unavailability, incapacity, or unreasonable withholding of consent.
Ohio The following persons may adopt:
Oklahoma Any unmarried person who is at least 21 years of age, or a husband and wife jointly, may adopt. A married person may adopt without the other spouse if they are legally separated, if one spouse is a stepparent, or if the child is born out of wedlock.
Rhode Island Any person who lives in the State can adopt any younger person. A husband and wife must adopt jointly, unless good cause is shown.
Tennessee Any person over 18 years of age and who has lived in the State for at least 1 year can adopt. A husband and wife must adopt jointly, except in the case of stepparent adoption, where the spouse who is the natural parent does not need to join in the adoption. Foster parents who have had care of the child for at least 1 year and are otherwise qualified shall be given preference.
Texas Any adult may adopt. A husband and wife must adopt jointly, including the spouse of a stepparent.
Virginia Any natural parent who lives in the State may adopt. A married couple must jointly adopt, unless the spouse who is adopting is the stepparent; then the spouse can adopt without the other spouse joining.
West Virginia Any single or married person, either with his or her spouse jointly or with his or her spouse's consent, can adopt.
Wisconsin An unmarried adult or husband and wife jointly, who are residents of the State, may adopt. A husband or wife may adopt if the other spouse is the minor's parent. When practicable, and if requested by the birthparents, the adoptive parents shall be of the same religious faith as the birthparents. No person shall be excluded from adopting because of a physical handicap or because of race, color, religion, ancestry, or national origin.
Wyoming Any adult who has lived in the State during the 60 days prior to the filing of the petition and who is determined by the court to be fit and competent to be a parent may adopt. A husband and wife must file jointly, unless a stepparent is adopting; then the stepparent can adopt without the natural parent joining the adoption.
Credits: Child Welfare Information Gateway (http://www.childwelfare.gov)