Not Just for Kids
When you hear the word “adoption,” the first image in your head is likely one that involves a small child being introduced into a new home. Perhaps you imagine an aunt or a relative adopting a family member whose parents need time to organize their lives. But what we’re talking about today are the adoptions of adults.
Yes, we are talking about grown-ups and not even necessarily adults with special needs. Full-grown, fully capable members of the community that may even have children of their own.
In today’s world, it’s a harsh reality that our society has a high
divorce rate; 40-50% depending on the study. After that divorce, about 75% of those couples remarry, not to each other. Most of those second marriages create a step-parent scenario for either mom, dad, or both.
I’m not going to bore you with any more statistics or science but ultimately, many children find themselves living more years with their step-parent than they did with their biological parent. The same is also true with foster-parents.
After living most of their formative years with the step-parent, more and more children are finding that they have formed a stronger parent-child relationship with their step-parent than with their biological parent. To further unite and strengthen the familial ties in infant situations, the families seek an adoption. Many people do not realize that when a child turns 18 years old and is no longer a “child,” adoption is still possible.
Just as with infants, step-parents seek adoption of their adult step-children to unite and strengthen their familial ties. The adult children desire to legally cement the relationship with the step-parent that stepped in when their biological parent abandoned them instead of forever living under the shadow of an absent parent. You’re probably wondering what kind of paperwork nightmare pursuing such a solution might create.
In fact, the legalities behind processing the adoption of an adult are less complicated than the adoption of a minor child. Our Courts focus on the “best interest of the child” and strive to protect those minor children that can’t protect themselves.
However, with an adult there is little need for that protection since an adult can make his/her own decisions. In this day and age, with all the choices we can make, why shouldn’t you be able to decide whether the person that has always been there for you must preface their title with “step?”
First, the adopting adult must file a petition with the Court. If the adopting adult is married, both spouses must join in the petition for adoption.
Next, the adopted adult must consent in writing to be adopted by the adopting adult. Also, the adopting adult and the adopted adult must attend the hearing.
Finally, if the court finds that the requirements for adoption of an adult are met, the judge shall grant the adoption. Further, if the adopting adult is married, the court may grant the adoption to both spouses or on their request, to only one spouse.
Once the court grants the adoption order, the adopted adult is the son or daughter of the adoptive parents for all purposes. This means that the adopted adult is entitled to inherit from and through the adopted adult’s adoptive parents as though she were the biological child of the adoptive parents. However, be aware that the adopted adult may not inherit from or though her biological parents, and her biological parents may not inherit from or though the adopted adult.
Adopting an adult puts the adopted adult fully in the adoptive parents’ family tree, thereby removing her completely from her biological family tree.
Statistically speaking (okay, sorry I lied about not bringing it up again), it is most likely that you have a step-parent, you are a step-parent, or both. For some, the above discussion about a bond with a step-parent being stronger than with the biological parent is simply unimaginable, but for many of you, I’ve just described your parental relationship to a tee.
If you want more information about an Adult Adoption, whether you’re the adopting adult or adopted adult, contact your attorney to find out what steps you need to take to get started. No attorney can tell you if this is the right decision for you and your family, but your attorney should ensure that you are able to make an informed decision once you know your options.
–Authored by Matthew L. Harris, Esq.,
Matthew Harris Law, PLLC – Family Law Division
1001 Main Street, Suite 200, Lubbock, Texas, 79401-3309
Tel: (806) 702-4852 | Fax: (800) 985-9479