April 2nd, 2007

With the new regulations on adopting from China coming into play next month, readers are asking what other countries impose a maximum age limit for adoption. (China is lowering theirs to 50, or 55 for special needs kids.)

Although most countries are clear about the minimum age allowed between child and adoptive parents … most often asking for parents 25 or older, or a certain number of years between child and parents … those that stipulate a maximum age for adoption are the minority.

Some agencies, however, do impose restrictions of their own that are not dictated by country laws or practices, so if you find an agency telling you you’re too old to adopt from country x, y or z, you may want to take a closer look at where the policy originates.


The information I have been able to collect today may not be current tomorrow, so look to the US Department of State and their updates on international adoption, country-by-country, to advise.

Looking at countries most often considered by Americans for adoption, here is a list with the age specifications they require, if any:

• Azerbaijan: no age restrictions
• Belarus: minimum +16 over child, no maximum
• Bulgaria: minimum over 25, no maximum
• Cambodia: under 55
• China: maximum 50 (55 for special needs children)
• Columbia: minimum over 25, no maximum
• Ecuador: minimum over 25, no maximum
• Ethiopia: minimum over 25, no maximum
• Georgia: minimum over 25, no maximum
• Guatemala: minimum over 25, no maximum (Although I have also heard there is no max limit, so the information seems to be inconsistent.)
• Haiti: minimum over 35, no maximum
• India between 28 and 40
• Kazakhstan: no age restrictions
• Latvia: no age restrictions
• Liberia: no age restrictions
• Mexico: minimum over 25, no maximum
• Moldova: between 25 and 50
• Nepal: between 25 and 55
• Peru: under 55
• Philippines: minimum over 27, no maximum
• Poland: under 44
• Russia: no age restrictions
• Korea: 25 to 44
• Taiwan: no maximum restriction
• Thailand: no more than 40 years older than the child
• Ukraine: no maximum restriction
• Viet Nam: no maximum restriction

Please contact me if you have information that differs from what I have been able to collect, and I will update my files and pass the info along.

I have to add a bit here about how age is, all in all, merely a number, and there is no magic number that separates parenting people from too-old-to-be-parenting people.

There are people in their sixties adding children to their families through adoption, and doing a wonderful job of it, so anyone thinking they’re alone in their desire to parent later in life has simply not yet stumbled across the thousands of us who are happily doing exactly that.

10 Responses to “Parental Age Limits in International Adoption”

  1. Lisa says:

    This is an excellent survey of age limits. I didn’t realize that Most have no restriction.
    Regarding Guatemala, some agencies have restrictions (actually quite a few stop at 50).

    Would someone explain to me why you can adopt a special needs child at 55 from China, but all other children only until age 50? Logic please…

  2. paulukon says:

    Sadly, a lot of restrictions are relaxed for special needs children–this is true for foster care adoption as well as many international adoptions. Even domestic agency adoption! (For example, our agency reduces their agency fee $1000 for special needs placements.)

    Also, it’s important to note that while a couple other countries may allow younger adults to adopt, the US regulations have a minimum age of 25 at the age of adoption (can apply at 24 if you’ll be 25 by then).

  3. fenwaycat says:

    What I have found the most frustrating in dealing with the age restrictions is that a stable married couple is penalized if one the spouse exceeds the age restriction, despite the other spouse being substantially younger. IE: My husband’s 49 and I’m 35, but we don’t qualify in many countries due to his age. Yet if I was single, many of the same countries would permit me to adopt as a single parent. It’s a frustrating process

  4. Emma says:

    China also has a lower age limit of 30.

  5. mom2B2008 says:

    It is unfair but true that a single woman has an easier time in adopting than a married woman with an older husband. It is very sad. I think that the world should support married people in their wish to have children especially when the couple is childless. We have already been through so much pain in our unfulfilled wish to be a family. What heartbreak.

  6. mom2B2008 says:

    If my husband and I would divorce we would have an easier time adopting than by staying married. Think about it.

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