In a homestead, a child's bed can be fitted in the Bedrooms or a single bed fitted in the Main Hall. When in the Main Hall the dresser in between the two single beds counts as a chest for both possible children. Otherwise, if there are two child beds, there must be two child chests. If there are two beds but one chest, adoption will still not be allowed.
Adopting a child from a city simply requires asking them about their circumstances. After this they can be asked if they would like to be adopted. If the prerequisites are met they will display their gratitude and arrange to meet the Dragonborn back home.
Children who can be found in cities are:
- Alesan – In Dawnstar near the mines.
- Blaise – Just outside Solitude at Katla's Farm.
- Lucia – In Whiterun near the Gildergreen.
- Sofie – In Windhelm, Gray Quarter.
Adopting a child from Honorhall Orphanage is only possible if the quest, Innocence Lost has been completed and the headmistress, Grelod the Kind, is dead. Constance Michel takes over and sends out a letter urging people to consider adoption.
If choosing to adopt from Honorhall, she will be pleased but is required to first ask a few questions, one of which is what the Dragonborn's occupation is. The following answers are possible:
- I'm the Dragonborn.
- I'm Harbinger of the Companions.
- I'm Arch-Mage of the College of Winterhold.
- I'm a Thief.
- I'm an Assassin.
- I'm an Adventurer.
- I'm a Mercenary.
Replying as Dragonborn, Harbinger or Arch-Mage will result in amazement and disbelief from Constance. Thief and Assassin results in her complaining about wasting her time and Adventurer and Mercenary are met with indifference.
She then asks where the child will be living. If a suitable home is owned, including a child's bed and chest, then it will appear as a possible reply. Choose a home and she'll congratulate the Dragonborn on becoming a parent. She then asks that the Dragonborn can go meet the children and decide who to adopt.
The children who are available by default are:
If the prerequisites are not met she will refuse adoption, mentioning that the life of an adventurer is not exactly a safe or reliable profession. She needs to be sure the child will have a safe and stable home to grow up in. She finishes by urging the Dragonborn to buy a house and furnish it and then come back.
Other children from across Skyrim are sent to Honorhall Orphanage if their parents die. Once they are at Honorhall, they can be adopted. Alternatively, one may be able to adopt them on the spot before they're sent to the orphanage. These children include:
If the child's parents are killed by the Dragonborn and the crime is noted by the guards or observed by the child, adoption may not be possible. Children may be "aware" that their parents were killed by the Dragonborn even if the crime was committed while hidden, rendering adoption impossible.
It is possible, however, to guarantee adoption after killing a child's parents. Immediately after committing the crime, by bribing the guards and Calming the child for a certain period, it is possible for children to reach the "acceptance" phase, when it becomes possible to open dialogue with them again. They say things such as "(sigh)," and "What...what am I gonna do?", and at this point, it becomes possible to adopt them.
It seems there is limited space in the orphanage, it can hold eleven children altogether, including the four that have always lived there. If the orphaned child doesn't show up at Honorhall within a few days, they likely are still in the place they originally lived.
Once a child has been adopted, they will tell the Dragonborn that they will go to their new home. Once there, there are a few possible interactions that can be made with them. These include:
- Giving them gifts, which grants "The Gift of Charity". Giftable items include:
- Playing a game with them, such as tag or hide-and-seek.
- Telling them to play outside or inside
- Telling them to do their chores
- Telling them to go to sleep
- Telling them they may or may not keep a pet
Occasionally, an adopted child may give their parent a gift. These include:
- Alchemy ingredients
- Any dagger (note that the wooden sword is regarded as a dagger)
- A piece of ore
- A soul gem
- If a child has a chest near their bed, they will store ingredients, food and other items that the Dragonborn can take.
- Sometimes, an adopted child may show up with a small animal such as a fox or a skeever, asking if they can keep it as a pet.
- If the Dragonborn brings a dog follower (such as Meeko or a stray dog) when visiting an adopted child, the child may ask to adopt the dog. However, it is not possible to adopt Barbas, a death hound, or a non-canine animal follower such as an armored troll.
- An adopted child with a dagger or wooden sword will use their weapon on a practice dummy, if one is available.
- If two children are adopted, they will sometimes play with each other or argue, in which case they can be scolded.
- An adopted child may say that they are afraid to go down into the cellar as something is down there.
- An adopted child may ask for an allowance. The options presented are to give a varying amount, from 5 up to 1,000 . The child's response differs depending on the amount given.
- Adopted children have unique comments for each of the Hearthfire homes and the houses in the different cities. They will comment on local children they have played with, or places in the city they have visited. They will also comment on whether or not they like the house or city they are living in. The only house all children openly love and have no complaints about is Lakeview Manor.
- If The Elder Scrolls V: Dragonborn is installed and the Dragonborn has a Riekling as a follower, adopted children will comment on it, saying they seem really tough or really scary.
An adopted child can be moved to a different home. The dialog option "Its time for us to move." is used which opens a list of eligible homes. The child will respond with "Okay, I'll meet you there." when the new location is selected. (If the move is cancelled the child will respond with "Aw, stop teasing me.") The child will be at the new home when it is next visited. Any pet the child has will also follow.
- An armed child may follow the Dragonborn down to the cellar whenever the house has skeever infestations and help kill the creatures. If the child has a pet, such as a fox, the pet may also follow, but it may get killed.
- Aventus Aretino cannot be adopted.
- When the Dragonborn sleeps in the same house as their child, either the Father's Love or Mother's Love bonus is received, depending on the gender of the Dragonborn. This bonus yields a 25% additional effect when using healing potions.
- If the Dragonborn is married to someone of the opposite gender, they will get both the Father's/Mother's Love bonus and the Lover's Comfort bonus.
- Having children live at Honeyside in Riften allows a mass game of tag to be played with all of the children at Honorhall Orphanage. The game begins near Honorhall, where one of the Dragonborn's children should be tagged, after which the Dragonborn runs into the orphanage. If all of the children inside don't join in, this can be corrected by waiting until the game is over and then beginning another game inside the orphanage.
- With the addition of The Elder Scrolls V: Dragonborn, children may gift alchemical ingredients from Solstheim such as scathecraw, which is quite a feat since no merchant in Skyrim sells them.
- If the Dragonborn is not given the option to adopt a child when speaking to them, the following can be done on PC using the console to fix this. After selecting the child in the console to see their ID, typing "
setrelationshiprank [Child ID] 4", followed by "
setrelationshiprank player 4", "
addfac 3004290 1" will cause the option to adopt them to appear when speaking to them.
- Children are considered their own race in the console, with names such as "NordChild."
This section contains bugs related to Adoption. Before adding a bug to this list, consider the following:
- Constance Michel at the orphanage, it may be possible to send children to live at an owned house without a children's bed and cupboard. When requesting permission to adopt children from
- It may not be possible to move children to an eligible house.
When a child is given new clothes, they may un-equip all clothing items in their inventory, leaving boys wearing only shorts and girls wearing their two-piece under garment.
- A less drastic version of this bug involves the child removing all of their current clothes, but still equipping the clothes they are given. This means that children will wear their new clothes, but will also take off their shoes when doing so. As children cannot be given footwear, this leaves them permanently barefoot.
- The Gift of Charity is sometimes not granted when a child is given a gift.
- If the Dragonborn closes out the dialog of their child before they are finished, the child will follow them and keep bringing up dialog every time the Dragonborn goes home to the child.
- Upon entering the house, an adopted child may ask to keep the Dragonborn's dog, even if they have none. Allowing the child to keep it may prevent giving a real dog to it.
- Main article: Achievements (Hearthfire)
| Proud Parent|
Adopt a child