Can You Adopt an Adult?

You can adopt an adult in the U.S. The process varies by state, but usually isn’t complicated since the adoptee is of legal age and consents. Most adult adoptions take about 90 days and can occur for a variety of reasons. A stepparent or adult may want to make their bond with a stepchild or foster child official. For others, adopting an adult is a way to ensure an inheritance goes to the designated individual.

If adopting an adult for financial reasons sounds odd to you, you might be surprised to find out that Japanese businessmen may adopt other male adults. If an employer doesn’t have a son, he ensures his company’s line of succession, which must be passed on to a male, through adoption. Suzuki is run by adopted sons. Osamu Suzuki, the current chairman and CEO, is the fourth consecutively adopted son to run the multinational.

Here are more reasons you may want to consider adopting someone 18 years of age or older, and how to adopt an adult.

Reasons to Adopt an Adult

There are myriad cultural reasons why different individuals or families may wish to adopt an adult, but Americans have a few common reasons cited:

  • To guarantee that an inheritance, including property and financial assets, goes to the adopted adult;
  • To legally formalize an existing relationship;
  • Because a foster child who was unable to be adopted as a minor is at the consenting age of 18, and wants to be adopted by the foster parent(s);
  • To provide care for an adult (like mentally challenged individuals), and gain access to their medical records and Social Security benefits.

Reasons Adults Cannot be Adopted

All states allow legal adult adoptions. The specific local laws and conditions may vary, and some general restrictions may make an adult adoption prohibited. They include:

  • If the parent and “child” are in an intimate relationship or were before (adult adoption is not a legal solution for the rights of same-sex couples to be recognized);
  • If the adoptee is older than the adopter;
  • If the adoption is for immigration purposes.

If your adult adoption case is not as clear-cut, you may want to consult with an attorney for guidance.

How to Adopt an Adult

Adopting an adult is a fairly simple process, though laws vary from one county or state to another, so it is generally advisable to retain a local specialist in family law. Here are the general steps to adopting an adult:

Check State Requirements

The requirements for adoption vary by state. To get started, visit your local county courthouse or your state’s court website for information on how to adopt an adult. Most states will require you to fill out some forms, notarize documents, and notify the birth parents. If either the adopter or adoptee is married, they will need consent from their respective spouses.

Once approved, the adopted adult will receive a new birth certificate, which includes the name of the new parent. The adopted adult does not need to change their name for the adoption to be recognized.

Adult Adoption Forms

Collect and fill out the following adult adoption forms:

  • Adoption agreement;
  • Petition for approval;
  • Order of adoption;
  • Spousal consent from the adopting parent’s spouse (if applicable);
  • Spousal consent from the adult child’s spouse (if applicable).

Draft an Adoption Petition

Each state has specific requirements when it comes to adoption petitions. The courts may provide a downloadable template on their websites you can use. Some of the key points that should be included in the adoption petition are:

  • The adopter’s full legal name, age, address, and county where they live and plan to file the petition;
  • The name, date of birth, and place of birth, including city, county, and state, of the adult to be adopted;
  • The new legal name the adopted adult will have (if applicable);
  • A short statement explaining the reason(s) why the adopter wants to adopt the person;
  • Adopted adult’s biological (or legal) parents names, dates of birth, and address(es);
  • Signed and dated consent from both parties.

You may need to sign the petition before a notary. Check with your local courthouse to confirm. There are a few documents you may need to include with the petition, such as proof that the living birth parents were notified, current marriage licenses, and divorce decrees.

Attend an Adoption Hearing

Once you submit the paperwork, you’ll need to wait for a court date. Once you appear before a family judge, your case will be decided and finalized at the hearing.

How Much Does It Cost to Adopt Someone Over 18?

The costs and lead times of an adult adoption process vary. The procedure usually takes about 90 days. Here is the cost of adult adoption in some states:

Tips for Adopting an Adult

If you’ve been thinking of adopting someone you have a special bond with, there are a few things you can do to ensure the process goes smoothly.

Establish a Parent/Child Relationship

The most important factor in establishing a formal parent/child relationship is to show the court that there are no signs of a sexual relationship between the two adults.

Make Sure the Adopter is Older

Most states will require that the adopter is older than the person they want to adopt. Some states ask for an age gap of 10 years or more. If you wish to adopt someone close in age or older than you, the courts will likely reject the petition. If the adoption is for care purposes or to give the adoptee access to your medical records or financials, consider granting power of attorney instead.

Ensure Spousal Consent

All adults involved will need the consent of their spouses (if applicable) for the adoption to go through. If you’re the adopter, make sure your spouse agrees and signs a consent for the adoption. As for the person being adopted, the same approval is required from their spouse.

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