Under Church teaching, who is allowed to adopt?


Is it only heterosexual couples who are permitted to adopt? If so, would a Catholic adoption agency be allowed to place a child with a couple where one or both partners had divorced and remarried?

(I’m not in any such situation myself; I just had my interest in the subject piqued after reading debates over adoption by same-sex couples)


Since the Church doesn’t recognize “divorce”, a divorced and remarried Catholic is committing adultery, so no, they wouldn’t be allowed to adopt. If however the divorce had been annulled by the Church, then there would be no problem.


Thanks for the reply.

What about adoption by non-Catholic couples?

Are there any official Church guidelines for Catholic adoption agencies?


Catholic adoption agencies have closed when the State tried to make them admit same-sex couples for adoption.


Indeed, I was wondering however if there have ever been other problems faced by Catholic adoption agencies.

I suspect there would be moral issues over placing children with single people, divorced and remarried couples or unmarried cohabiting couples, but I haven’t heard of any Catholic adoption agencies ever clashing with the state over these issues (although I would be surprised if none ever have).

What I want to know is whether there are any official guidelines on this issue?


Sounds like you think they only adot out to Catholic families, which I don’t think is true. I do think single parents have more hurdles to overcome, with good reason. Similarly, it’s harder to be a foster parent if you are single.


Harder in some ways. Easier in others. I’m a single father raising children by myself. A great nanny is, in some ways, easier than a wife!


Since adoption is a matter of civil law, the Church has no control over what civil agencies do regarding adoption. So the question of “allowing” adoption is not an appropriate question. Now if the question is what the Church has to say about the wisdom of this or that adoption, she certain does have a lot to say.


Proving financial stability is a big hurdle for a potential single parent.
Great nannies are not cheap :slight_smile: and they won’t go out and earn income if you are laid off.


I believe that a Catholic adoption agency typically tries to place the child in a situation where scandal may happen. So they would 100% avoid an unmarried couple. Plus, they would most likely attempt to avoid a “divorced and remarried without annulment” couple - esp if the couple is Catholic. Catholic adoptions agencies would also most likely try their best to avoid single parents - since the Church believes the IDEAL is a married couple. However, a single person may be selected if they can show that they would be able to provide a wonderful Catholic home.

Point is: a Catholic adoption agency will most likely give first choice to a practicing Catholic couple, who do not dissent from Church teaching. Then, next to nominal Catholics and practicing Christians of other denominations. Historically, they would not grant adoptions to non-Catholics. But in today’s sue happy society, I can see them granting adoptions to non-Catholics more regularly (though I have no idea how much this happens).

God Bless


I think that you’re mistaken. From what I’ve read, Catholic Charities usually performed its adoptions under contract with a city or a state agency. I can’t imagine those cities or states allowing Catholic Charities to give preference to Catholics who don’t dissent from Church teachings over people of other faiths or non-Church-going Catholics. The children are often not even from a Catholic background, so I don’t know why there should be such a preference.


I did not know there was a limitation.

Imagine this scenario:

A couple dies (for whatever reason) and the children go under guardianship of one of the couple’s siblings, who is a single gay man. I do not see anything wrong with this scenario. The kids go under the protection of their uncle. And technically, their uncle is committing no sin by being a single gay man.

Same thing applies if the guardian sibling of the couple is a divorced woman, or a single man. Being “different” I do not think disqualifies a person automatically. And if they eventually sin/go against the teachings of the church because of their sexual preference, how are couples, who are likewise everyday sinners of something else, be any better than them, just because the couple is in a recognised marriage?

Does not make sense to me, but I don’t know the rules.

PS. I know of a (die hard) catholic single lady who adopted a baby daughter. The little girl is now 12, and her mom is still single. And man o man….I would love to see other catholic couples teach their children what this single lady teaches her daughter. I would not be surprised if the little girl became a nun. Excellent example of a single mom, adopting, and teaching her child, pure and straight forward catholic values.

2ndPS: Just to note, that she eventually found out that her baby girl was born muslim, and the first thing she had done when the adoption came through was to have her baptised, not really knowing the history of the little girl. :blush: One more soul for our team!


Yes, today that very well might be the case. But not in the past.


I’ve heard of a priest whom the Church allowed to adopt the children of a parishioner who passed away, so single people (let alone single priests) aren’t automatically dismissed.


This topic was automatically closed 14 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.