When we hear about adoption, we immediately think about the adoption process for children. Less talked about, and less common, is adult adoption. Adult adoption happens most typically when step-parents adopt their spouse’s adult children, but we also see cases where families are reunited later in life and want to legalize their rekindled relationship, or can occur if someone needs care with a disability.
Adult adoption doesn’t give the same legal rights as when adopting a child, due to the adoptee being able to legally make their own decisions, but adult adoption has its own benefits.
What Is Adult Adoption?
Adult adoption is when one adult is adopted by another adult, which legally terminates the parental relationship with the biological parent. In California, the adult adoptee must be 18 or older, and at least 10 years younger than the adopting parent. Everyone involved, including spouses, will have to agree to the adoption in writing.
An adult adoption establishes all the legal rights and responsibilities between parent and child, which can include things like organizing next of kin, who holds power of attorney, and other legal requests. Once the adoption is completed, the birth parents no longer carry any of the parental duties, rights to, or responsibilities over the adult adoptee. If desired, the newly adopted adult may take on their adoptive parent’s last name, and have their birth certificate amended once the whole process has been completed. Adult adoption does not change any immigration status.
How Do You Adopt an Adult?
When adopting a minor, the consent of both biological parents is required. While adopting an adult, the only consent needed is from the adoptee themselves, and potentially their spouses. There are a few required documents for adult adoptions in California:
- Adoption agreement: A document that states the parties agree to assume the legal relationship of parent and child, and have all the rights and are subject to duties of that relationship
- Petition for approval of the adoption agreement: A formal request that the court approves the adoption agreement. This document includes specific details pertaining to the relationship of the child and parent, and why the adoption would be best for both parties.
- The order of adoption: A formal court order granting the adoption, which should be brought to the adoption hearing to be signed by the judge.
- Spouse consent: If either parties are married, consent from their spouse(s) is necessary
Adult adoptions are finalized at a hearing in front of a judge. The judge considers a number of factors, and decides based on the best interest of all parties involved. Adult adoption hearings can be made easier when represented by an attorney who has experience navigating adult adoption law and can help avoid any unforeseen circumstances in filing, or in court.
Reasons for Adult Adoption
There are a few reasons adult adoption happens, and can be beneficial to everyone involved in the relationship.
Legal inheritance can be difficult if there is not a legal relationship between the parent and child. Formalizing the relationship makes the process smoother, less likely to be challenged, and easier to manage under law terms.
Caregivers of adults who have any mental or physical disabilities may adopt to be able to make decisions legally when an adult is unable to care for themselves. Sometimes biological parents are unable to continue caring for their child, and having another caregiver adopt can make legally providing care easier. Other times, maybe an aging parent needs to let their child make important healthcare decisions. This lets the caregiver make legal decisions for another adult that isn’t capable of doing so.
Foster care situations where a family has fostered a child and have formed a bond, once that child is a legal adult they can legally recognize that relationship. This is beneficial for any children who grow out of the foster care system but don’t wish to return to their biological family.
Older siblings who have cared for their younger siblings and assumed the position of parental responsibility can formalize their relationship by adopting, and make legal situations easier in the future.
Reuniting with a biological family happens when adult adoptees who were adopted as children seek out their birth families, and the biological family chooses to formalize their relationship. This makes the biological family legally their parents again.
Working With an Attorney for Adult Adoption
When you wish to strengthen the bond of your relationships with an adult adoption, our attorneys at Azemika Law can help. We efficiently handle cases involving divorce, dissolutions of partnerships, child custody, abandonment, and adoptions.
Serving Kern County for the past 28 years, we provide all of our clients with knowledgeable and affordable representation. We are family law specialists and we understand that each case is as unique as the clients we represent.
For comprehensive representation in the adoption process, contact us today.