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I go to the orphanage and I try to talk to the lady and she just says "you should not be here and the children are not up for adoption". What do I do?

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Following this guide:

  • You need to have "Heartfire DLC" installed (obviously)
  • You need to have a house (either built or bought in the city)
  • To adopt the children from the orphanage, You need to complete the Innocence lost, which can be started by talking to Aventus Arentino (to adopt orphans from the street this is not necessary)
  • You can't have more than 2 children already adopted
  • In case of pre-built houses, the bedroom should be upgraded, if you build your own you need a "bedroom" for your child *

If you match those requirements, try talking to children in Whiterun for example - there are two orphans running in the streets as well as a flower-selling one in Windhelm or try going to the orphanage in Riften.

*I can't really confirm from my experience that this is ABSOLUTELY required - the linked guide states that "you need a bedroom for your child" but I believe that even fully upgraded Breezehome in Whiterun has one bed and can be used to house your family

  • But it's true. The only way you can adopt children from the orphanage is to kill Grelod The Kind. She won't let you adopt children even if you just "started" the quest. – Jim Jones Mar 2 '17 at 3:34
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    I've adopted two kids and haven't killed the Grelod. But I've adopted orphans from the streets – Yasskier Mar 2 '17 at 3:35
  • Read the bottom of the Trivia on the Innocence Lost page: "Even if the Hearthfire add-on is installed, the children from Honorhall cannot be adopted while Grelod lives. If the Dragonborn wishes to adopt an Honorhall child, they must kill Grelod the Kind." – Jim Jones Mar 2 '17 at 3:36
  • @jimJones you can adopt children from the street without completing this quest - I've added this to clarify my answer – Yasskier Mar 2 '17 at 3:37
  • I know I'm just saying you can't adopt kids from the Orphanage unless you completed the quest. – Jim Jones Mar 2 '17 at 3:38
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You need to have the Hearthfire DLC in order to adopt children. Have you already? Then follow these steps:

You need to complete "Innocence Lost" in order to adopt children. To start, go to Windhelm, and go west until you find a Dummer and a child talking. They are standing next to a house. Go inside the house (need to unlock the door with lockpick) and you'll find a kid making a ritual. Talk to him and he'll tell you that he wants Grelod The Kind (the woman who said no adoptions) to get killed because of her cruelty. Go back to Riften's Honorhall Orphanage and kill her. Go be to Aventus Arentino (the kid) to complete the quest.

Wait a few days and then go back to the orphanage. Talk to Constance Michel to get the option to adopt. You need a house with a furnished kid's bedroom in order to do so.

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If Grelod the kind the still alive, you need to kill her.

If she is not alive, you need to wait for a while until Constance Michel send you the note "Consider Adoption" via Courier.

In any case, you must have a house with a children's bedroom which has a least one child's bed and child's chest.

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