Can Adults Adopt Adults?

In certain situations, it can be advantageous for an adult to adopt another adult. While not very common, it is legal in most states. You may be wondering what would prompt someone to want to adopt another adult, but after reading below, you will understand the need for this type of adoption.

Why Adopt An Adult

1.  Most commonly, adults are adopted for inheritance purposes. It is much easier to provide for a child by creating a will that leaves property and assets to a "child," rather than to another adult. It makes it far less likely that the will be challenged or overturned.

2.  Other common reasons are to formally recognize an adult step-child or a formerly fostered adult as a child, or to adopt an adult that is your biological child, but was raised by another family. Fathers who were unaware of biological children until they were adults may wish to adopt them.

3.  Adoptions are also sometimes used to allow for the care of an adult who is somehow incapacitated, either mentally or physically, and needs the on-going status of an adult child with diminished capacity.

When You Cannot Adopt An Adult

1.  If there is any type of sexual relationship between the two parties, adoption is a not available. The courts look at adoption as a parent-child relationship, so same-sex couples are also out of luck if seeking adoption as a means to give rights to their partner in states that don't allow same sex marriages.

2.  Most states require that the adopted adult be younger than the parent, but exceptions are often made for adults with diminished capacity.

3.  If there is suspected fraud, the courts will not not approve the adoption. An example of fraud would be an adult attempting to take advantage of someone in order to inherit assets or insurance fraud.

Keep In Mind

  • Unless the adopted adult is mentally incapacitated in some way, consent must be given and sometimes the consent of the spouse is required if the adult being adopted is married.
  • If approved, a new birth certificate is issued by the court and the adopted adult has the right to legally change their last name. All ties are severed with the biological parents and the adopted adult has the option of having all court records concerning the adoption sealed.

As you can see, the reasons for adult adoptions are often financial, but not always. The meaning of family can be stretched as wide as you like, and adult adoption presents an opportunity to formalize those bonds. If you would like more specific information about this issue for your state, consult with a family law attorney from a firm like Harold Salant Strassfield & Spielberg.