How to Adopt an Adult
While most adoptions consist of an adult adopting a minor child, every state has laws that allow for adult adoption. Adults may choose to be adopted because they have a special connection with their stepparent, they want to formalize the family relationship that they already experience, for inheritance reasons, or to ensure that a disabled adult will be cared for later in life. Whatever the reason, a person must meet with all of the legal requirements for adult adoption in their state in order for the family relationship to be legally recognized.
Drafting Adoption Paperwork
Check state adoption requirements.Every state has different requirements for adult adoption. For example, under the laws of Alabama, an adult can only be adopted if he or she: consents to the adoption and is related in any degree or is stepchild by marriage; is totally and permanently disabled; determined to be mentally handicapped; or consents in writing to be adopted by a legally married adult couple. It is very important that you check your state’s laws regarding adoption to make sure that you meet the minimum legal requirements.
- For a list of state-by-state adoption laws visit: .
Contact local court.Once you have determined that you meet the requirements for adult adoption in your state, contact the local court in the county in which either the adopter (the person assuming the parent role) or the adoptee (the person being adopted) live.
- You can locate the county court by conducting an internet search for the name of the county and state and the words: “adoption” and “court.” This should direct you the appropriate website.
- Once you have located the correct court, call the clerk and ask what paperwork that you need to submit in order to file for an adult adoption.
- You should also ask whether there is a fee to file the forms.
- The clerk may direct you to the court’s website for you to download the proper forms or may provide you a list of documents that you must prepare and file.
Prepare required documents.Each state may request certain specific documents that the clerk will identify for you. Generally, courts will require some or all of the following documents to be filed in support of an adult adoption:
- A Petition for Adoption or Petition for Approval of Adoption Agreement.
- An Order of Adoption.
- Spousal Consents.
Draft adoption petition.If your state does not have an adult adoption form, ask the clerk to explain the format and petition requirements. Generally, a Petition for Adoption will include:
- The names, addresses, and ages of the adopter and adoptee.
- The name of the court and the county in which the adoption petition is being filed.
- A statement that the adopter wishes to adopt the adoptee and that the adoptee wants to be adopted by the adopter.
- If the adopter is married, a statement that the adopter’s spouse consents to the adoption.
- Information about how long the adopter and adoptee have known each other and the nature of their relationship
- The reasons why the parties want to move forward with an adoption.
- The names and addresses of the adoptee’s mother and father.
- The names of any children or previous adoptions by the adopter.
- The name that the adoptee wants to use after the adoption.
- Information on how the adoption meets a specific legal requirement of the state, such as kinship or stepparent by marriage.
- Signatures of the adopter and adoptee.
- A signed verification by both parties stating that the information in the petition is true to the best of their knowledge.
- You can view a sample adult adoption petition form at:
Draft spousal consent, if applicable.In addition to specifying spousal consent in the petition, some states such as California, require a separate document documenting spousal consent from the spouse of the adopter and adoptee, if applicable. Depending on the court, this document may be attached to the petition as an exhibit. Generally, the document will include the following information:
- The name of the spouse.
- A statement that the person is married to either the adopter or adoptee and is not legally separated from that person.
- A statement that they consent to the adoption of or by either the adoptee or adopter.
- A signature of the spouse and the date the document was signed.
- You can view a sample spousal consent at: .
Draft order of adoption.Most courts will also have a petitioner submit an Order of Adoption, which is the document that the court signs to finalize the adoption. The order should include:
- The name of the court and the county.
- The name of the person being adopted.
- A statement that the petition of the adopter and adoptee was heard.
- A statement that the judge in the case (use the judge’s full name) heard the case and that the parties appeared before him or her.
- That the adopter is older than the adoptee and that the adoptee is an adult.
- That both the adoptee and adopter reside in the county.
- That the parties agree to the adoption and that both spouses consent.
- The court is satisfied that the adoption is in the best interest of all of the parties.
- A statement that the court orders that the adoption petition is granted and that the adoptee is now the legal child of the adopter and the adoptee’s new name, if applicable.
- The judge’s signature and date..
- You can view a sample order at: .
Attach additional documentation.Some courts will require you to submit additional documents along with the petition. These documents may include:
- A certified birth certificate for the adoptee.
- If the adoptee is foreign born, he or she may need to submit citizenship or residency information as well as a visa and passport.
- Some state’s such as Pennsylvania, may require fingerprints.
Completing the Adoption
Obtain any orders or forms from the court.In some states, the court must complete and provide you with a specific form before the adoption can move forward. You must check with the court clerk to determine, what if any documents you must obtain from the court before filing your petition or scheduling your hearing.
File adoption petition.Typically, you will take your petition and any filing fee to the clerk of the court that handles adoptions in your county. This may be the probate court, family court, surrogate court or juvenile court depending on your state. You will submit you petition and any copies that the court requires. Generally, you will submit one original petition for the court and one copy to be stamped by the court for your personal records.
- If the adoptee is developmentally disabled, there may be additional steps that you must take before attending an adoption hearing. For example, in California a 30-day notice prior to the hearing must be given to the director of the regional center for the developmentally disabled.
- You can check your state laws or ask the court clerk whether there are any additional steps you must take to protect the rights of a developmentally disabled adoptee.
Attend the adoption hearing.Once all of your supporting documentation has been submitted and the court reviews the materials, a hearing date will be set. Depending on the court, you may have to request a hearing or the court will assign you a hearing date.
- All parties to the adoption must attend the hearing.
- The judge may ask the adopter and adoptee a few questions about the adoption.
- Some states require that a notice of the adoption hearing be sent to the biological parents of the adoptee.
- The judge will sign the Order of adoption and finalize the adoption at the hearing.
File signed order of adoption.Once the order is signed, you may need to file the signed order with the court. You can then request a certified copy of the Order of Adoption for your personal records.
- Be sure to check with the court clerk and identify any final requirements that you need to meet in order to have the adoption legally recognized.
Amend birth certificate.The court will send a notice of the adoption to the state’s office of vital records documenting the change in legal parentage. You may receive a notice from the vital records office asking whether you want to amend your birth certificate in order to reflect the adoption. Once processed, an adoptee can request a copy of his or her new birth certificate.
Avoiding Adult Adoption Pitfalls
Establish a relationship with the adult adopter.Adult adoptions are more likely to be granted by the court if the relationship between the adopter and adoptee has lasted for many years. For example, a mentor/mentee relationship of 10 years may be a good candidate for adult adoption if both parties meet other prerequisites.
Ensure the adopter is older than the adoptee.Many states require that the adopter be older than the adoptee. If this is not the case, a court may reject the adoption petition.
Avoid a sexual relationship with the adoptee.Prior to the Supreme Court ruling that found prohibitions on same-sex marriage unconstitutional, some same-sex couples attempted to use adult adoption as a way to secure rights for their partner. Before marriage equality, this was the only way for some couples to ensure that their same-sex partner inherited their estate or were allowed visitation rights at the hospital.
- Some courts rejected these attempts to use adoption as a way to give rights to a same-sex couples.
- Some courts rejected these attempts because they stated that adoption was designed to formalize a parent-child relationship.
Check residency requirements.Many states require both parties to the adoption to be residents in the same state. If a party fails to meet this requirement in a state that has a residency rule, the adoption petition may be denied.
QuestionCan adults be adopted, or is it just children?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYes, you can adopt adults as well as children.Thanks!
QuestionCan a foreigner be adopted?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYes, but the specific process will possibly vary by state, so you'll have to get details for your state.Thanks!
Can you get adopted just for a family? (Just curious)
Where can I found adult to adopt?
- While it is not required that you hire an attorney for the adoption process, it may be in your best interest to at least have an attorney review your materials to make sure that you meet the court’s requirements.
Sources and Citations
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