Adult adoption describes any situation in which one adult (or couple) legally adopts another. This process allows families to formalize meaningful, longstanding relationships and provides adoptive parents and adoptees with certain legal benefits and protections.
People Who May Consider Adult Adoption
Adult adoption typically follows a deep relationship developed over time. This type of adoption is common for:
- Foster parents who want to adopt a former foster child who has aged out of the foster care system
- Stepparents who want to adopt a stepchild whose other biological parent’s rights were never terminated
- LGBT parents who were not previously able to adopt their spouse’s children
- Any parents who have assumed an informal parental role for a now-adult child
Through adoption, these relationships can be legally recognized. This process ensures full inheritance rights, social security benefits, access to medical records and more for adoptive parents and adult adoptees. Most importantly, adult adoption can be a powerful, emotional symbol of a family’s commitment to one another.
Every state has laws regarding who can adopt or be adopted. About 30 states currently allow any person to be adopted, regardless of age. However, some states require the adoptee to be under age 21, and others specify that the relationship must meet certain criteria in order for the adoption to be granted. Speak with an adoption attorney in your state to ensure you understand your state’s adult adoption requirements.
Adult Adoption Process
Because adult adoption does not require a home study or termination of parental rights, the adult adoption process is a relatively simple legal procedure compared to many other types of adoption.
In most cases, the adoptive parents and adoptee can work directly with an adoption attorney to complete the following steps:
1. File an adoption petition – Your attorney will work with you to complete important legal paperwork and file it with your local court.
2. Obtain consents – While the adoptee’s birth parents will not be required to consent to the adoption, legal consent paperwork must be completed by the adopting adults, the adult to be adopted, and his or her spouse, if applicable.
3. Finalize the adoption – Adoption finalization procedures vary from state to state. In most states, your attorney will arrange a finalization hearing, where you will appear in court to legally complete the adoption process.
Children never outgrow the need for a family — even as adults. Adult adoption can be a powerful way to legally and permanently recognize your family’s most meaningful relationships, while also establishing important legal and financial rights.