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I never got a letter about adopting children. When I go to the Honorhall Orphanage the girl keeps running around saying "Mercy!" because I killed Grelod the Kind. Can I still adopt children?

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Do you have the Hearthfire DLC installed? –  SevenSidedDie Mar 10 '13 at 19:42

3 Answers 3

In addition to adopting from the orphanage in Riften, you can also adopt some children in other cities as well:

  • Alesan in Dawnstar
  • Blaise in Solitude
  • Lucia in Whiterun
  • Sofie in Windhelm

See the Elder Scrolls Wiki for more information.

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But will they be able to do it without the letter that is delivered when Hearthfire is installed? –  ヴァイシャリ Mar 11 '13 at 1:55
@desaivv I'm not sure. I just remember when I was playing, I couldn't adopt in Riften, but I was able to adopt the girl in Whiterun. I can't remember if I got a letter or not. –  Adeese Mar 11 '13 at 21:11
In my experience, only the children in the orphanage require you to make any progress in the Dark Brotherhood quest line. Orphaned children in other cities are more than happy to be given a good home at any time. So all you really need are beds & storage for your children. I'm personally fond of Sofie & Blaise, but that's just me. I'll likely have already purchased all of Sofie's flowers before I've been able to give her a home... –  tjd Jul 22 at 14:41

You need to

  • have the Hearthfire DLC
  • install the kids bedroom in one of your city houses or
  • have one of the houses that you build yourself in Hearthfire

To calm down the kids in the orphanage you can use a calm spell or shout.

See more information here.

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I believe that the Hearthfire DLC, purchasing the child's bedroom and receiving the letter of adoption are all necessary prior to the adoption dialog options appearing when in conversation with children.

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