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Adult Adoptions

Making the Relationship Legal


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An adult adoption may occur once the potential adoptee reaches the age of 18 or older. At that time the only consent required is that of the adult wishing to be adopted and of course the person willing to adopt.

What are some of the reasons for an adult adoption?

  • A former foster child who after growing close to the foster family and not being legally available for adoption as a child, may be adopted as an adult if he/she so wishes.
  • A step-child who has grown fond of his/her step-parent may be adopted as an adult by the step-parent.
  • An adult adoptee after finding his/her birth family may choose to be adopted by his/her family of origin.
  • A way to create legal inheritance rights within a relationship.

States that do not allow most adult adoptions include:

  • Alabama only allows adults over the age of 18 who are permanently disabled or mentally retarded to be adopted.
  • Arizona only allows people under the age of 21 to be adopted.
  • Michigan,
  • Nebraska
  • Ohio only allows permanently disabled, mentally retarded persons, or adults who have established a relationship with the adoptive parent(s) through foster care or a step-parent relationship.

Reasons that an adult adoption may not be allowed:

  • Prohibited by some states, unless the adoptee meets guidelines which may include a top age of 21. See list above.
  • If the adoptive parent and the adopted adult "child" are involved in a sexual relationship, the state's incest laws will apply.
  • If the adoptive parent and adopted adult "child" are involved in a same-sex sexual relationship, sodomy laws will apply.
  • If the particular state requires a specific age difference between the adoptive parent and adopted child.
  • Some states, like New York, have determined that adoption law may not be used to legalize an adult relationship between same-sex partners. However, Delaware stated that it was okay to use adoption between adults to create inheritance rights, if that was the primary purpose of the adoption.

For more information on adoption law in your state see Adoption Law by State and locate the article dealing with adult adoption.

Can an adult from a foreign country be adopted into the United States?

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