Statutes determine the requirements regarding who may adopt in a given state. Most states have their adoption statutes modeled upon the Uniform Adoption Act. The Uniform Adoption Act provides that any individual may adopt another individual in an effort to create the legal relationship of child and parent, subject to the adopting individual having reached adulthood.
However, states vary with regard to factors they consider as disqualifying one’s ability to adopt. For example, some statutes disqualify unmarried or single individuals. The Uniform Adoption Act does not prohibit the unmarried from adopting. Some state statutes disqualify those suffering from physical or mental disabilities. Some states have imposed “reputability requirements” under which individuals with criminal histories or employment instability would not qualify as suitable for adoption.
The court makes an official finding that the individual is “acceptable” as an adoptive parent. The court must pass upon an investigatory report submitted by the state agency that the individual qualifies as “acceptably suitable” for becoming an adoptive parent. Many states, including Florida, Nebraska, and Oklahoma have restricted gays and lesbians from adopting children. However, court challenges to the constitutionality of these restrictions have not worked thus far.