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How to adopt children in Skyrim

It’s not easy being Dragonborn. Add being a parent on top of the Dovahkiin’s list of responsibilities, and it’s no wonder the thought of a murderous rampage through Whiterun crosses their mind. However, the temporary buffs earned from having a family are well-worth the stress of parenthood. This guide will go over how to adopt children in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, including all prerequisites and necessary steps. We’ll also provide a list of every child you can adopt in Skyrim.

How to adopt children in Skyrim

Three children from the Elder Scrolls Skyrim
Image used with permission by copyright holder

So you’ve done everything there is to do in Skyrim, and now it’s time to start a family. To adopt children in Skyrim, you must have the Hearthfire DLC installed. The free DLC will come with any current version of the game. Hearthfire introduced adoption and homesteads into the game. While adoption is self-explanatory, homesteads allow you to build your own home from the ground up on land outside major cities or in the middle of the wilderness.

No matter where you live in Skyrim, be it your hand-built homestead or Solitude apartment, you’ll need the proper furnishing to begin the adoption process. In your home, you’ll need to have a child’s bed and chest for each child you plan on adopting (you can only adopt a max of two children.)

Homes in the major cities will need to have a child’s bedroom already attached. If you’re operating out of a homestead, you’ll need to build one yourself. Your best bet is to build your own home and buy a bed and chest for each child you plan on adopting. Besides, building a homestead is half the fun of Hearthfire.

Where you can adopt children in Skyrim

A house in Skyrim built with Hearthstone DLC
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Now that you have the proper furnishings, it’s time to find the heir to your legacy. You can find adoptable children wandering around Dawnstar, Solitude, Whiterun, and Windhelm. All you have to do is approach the child and ask about their current living situation. If the prerequisites are met, the adoption dialogue will prompt. Adopting wandering children is the most straightforward way to start your family, but it’s not the only one.

You can also head to Honorhall Orphanage in Riften, headed by the ironically named Grelod the Kind. Grelod is anything but kind, which explains why Aventus Aretino, also known as the cursed child in Windhelm, wants her dead. Killing Grelod is the first Dark Brotherhood quest and must be completed to proceed in adoption. Once dead, Constance Michel will take over Honorhall Orphanage, and the Dragonborn can talk to her about adoption.

There are four children in Honorhall by default. However, the Orphanage itself has room for 11 total. If you kill a child’s parents while questing around Skyrim, they’ll end up in Honorhall Orphanage, where you can adopt them yourself. However, if they witnessed you kill their parents or the guards catch you, they’ll refuse to go with you for obvious reasons.

Perks of parenthood in Skyrim

The Dragonborn stares down a dragon in Skyrim
Via Bethesda

While raising children isn’t as exciting as absorbing the souls of dead dragons, it still has its perks. For starters, you can gain the Gift of Charity to increase your Speech by 10 for one hour (real-time) by giving your adopted child a present. These presents include:

  • A wooden sword
  • A child’s doll
  • Children’s clothing
  • A dagger
  • A treat like fruits or sweet rolls
  • A children’s book

At this point in the game, you’ve probably got a plethora of daggers to your name, so give those kids something sharp to play with and claim your Gift of Charity. Sleeping in the same house as your child will grant you with the Father’s/Mother’s Love buff, which boosts the effect of healing potions by 25%.

Children can also give you gifts for being such a good parent! These gifts range from clothes and jewelry to bows and magical staffs. Where your children found a Staff of Flames is left to mystery.

Children can also show up with random animals like foxes, rabbits, and mudcrabs and ask you to keep them as pets. While there is no in-game benefit to having a pet, it’s better than not having a pet.

Sometimes, your kids will be scared to go into the basement, claiming there’s something down there. If you’re a good parent and arm your children with daggers, they’ll fight alongside you as you fend off the pests in the basement, which are usually just skeevers. Be careful of their pets, though. Killing their animal companion in the crossfire (or on purpose) will result in them pretty much hating you for a few in-game days.

Finally, kids are natural explorers and need to dump their findings occasionally. Search their chests for items like food and ingredients. Hopefully, we’ll see the entire family system improved upon in The Elder Scrolls: 6.

Do you have to be married to adopt children in Skyrim?

You don’t have to be married to adopt children in Skyrim. All you have to meet are the prerequisites mentioned above. However, married life does come with its perks when coupled with parenthood. Your spouse will operate their own shop where you can buy and sell your goods. You’ll also gain the Lovers Comfort buff, which boosts your experience gain by 15% for eight in-game hours.

To get married in Skyrim, head back to Riften and speak with Maramal at the Temple of Mara. For more information, check out our guide on how to get married in Skyrim.

Who can you adopt in Skyrim?

Child sitting on a bench in Skyrim
Image used with permission by copyright holder

As mentioned, there are a few different ways and places to adopt children in Skyrim. Here’s every child you can adopt and where to find them.

Children you can find in cities

  • Alesan — Dawnstar, found near the mines
  • Blaise — Solitude, found just outside the city on Katla’s Farm
  • Lucia — Whiterun, found near the Gildergreen
  • Sofie — Windhelm, in Gray Quarter (where the Dark Elves live)

Children in Honorhall Orphanage (default)

These are the four children that are at Honorhall Orphanage by default. Aventus Aretino was the fifth child, but he ran away to summon the Dark Brotherhood.

  • Runa Fair-Shield
  • Hroar
  • Samuel
  • Francois Beaufort

Children whose parents are killed

The children below will appear in Honorhall Orphanage if their parents are killed by the Dragonborn or by other NPCs. Each child’s parents are pretty self-explanatory as they’ll share the same name, home, or occupation.

  • Aeta — Skaal Village
  • Braith — Whiterun
  • Brittle — Rorikstead
  • Clinton — Dragon Bridge (a town between Solitude and Markarth)
  • Dorethe — Riverwood
  • Eirid — The Frozen Hearth (an inn in Winterhold)
  • Erith — Left Hand Mine (near Markarth)
  • Frodnar — Riverwood
  • Ralnach — Heartwood Mill (on the shore of the river in The Rift)
  • Hrefna — Darkwater Crossing (mining town in southern Eastmarch)
  • Knud — Katla’s Farm (found during Animal Extermination quest)
  • Minette — The Winking Skeever (inn in Solitude)
  • Sissel — Roriksted
  • Skuli — Old Hroldan Inn (inn south of Soljund’s Sinkhole)
  • Svari — Solitude
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Mike Colucci
Michael Colucci is a lifelong video game fan based out of the greater Boston area. He's the one insistent on searching every…
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