The legal adoption process ensures that your parent-child bond is recognized, whether a kid joins your family as a baby, older child, or teenager. But what if you and an adult form a meaningful parent-child relationship? The question is, Can you adopt an adult in Georgia, North Carolina, or other locations in the US?
Basically, adult adoption allows families to preserve essential relationships, safeguard legal rights, and experience the sense of stability and finality that adoption brings. This article will go into detail with regard to whether or not you can adopt an adult plus every detail you would need going down this path.
What is Adult Adoption?
Adult adoption is exactly what it sounds like: the adoption of an adult by another adult. We encounter scenarios like this when adoption was not finalized while the child was a minor, but the adoptive family and adults still wish to legitimize their parent-child relationship.
Adult adoption is frequently used to legally document an already existing deep, long-standing parent-child relationship; for example, a stepparent may adopt an adult stepchild whose biological parents’ rights were never terminated, or foster parents may want to adopt a former foster child who aged out of the system while in their care.
Adult adoption is a relatively simple process for these scenarios and several other kinds of families, and it provides both sides with numerous benefits, including:
- Adopted person’s inheritance rights
- Access to medical records and the ability to visit one another in the hospital
- Benefits from the Social Security Administration
The most significant advantages of adult adoption, however, are typically emotional: for many families, the adoption process is a symbol of their dedication and love for one another.
How Do I Go About Adopting an Adult?
Anyone can adopt an adult in the US as long as the adult being adopted agrees to the process. A new, legal parent-child relationship is formed once the adoption is finalized.
Every adult adoption in North Carolina, Georgia, or other locations in the US requires the assistance of an adoption attorney. An attorney will help in;
- Providing guidance to all parties involved in the adoption process
- Obtaining the adoptee’s signed consent
- The process of submitting an adoption petition to the court
- Bringing the adoption to a close in court
Adopting an adult you love is simpler than you might realize compared to other types of adoption because it does not require a home study or the termination of parental rights.
Who Is Eligible to File a Case for Adult Adoption?
Any adult can file an adoption case for another adult if the following conditions are met:
- The adult who is seeking adoption lives in a serene and comfortable location, and
- The adult who will be adopted agrees to be adopted.
What Should I Do if I Want to Initiate an Adult Adoption Case?
Filing an Original Petition for the adoption of an adult is the first step in starting an adult adoption process. However, you’d need to meet the demands of the court to ensure you get a shot at seeing this through.
Is There a Fee to Begin an Adult Adoption Case?
Yes. When you file for adult adoption, you will almost always have to pay a “filing fee.” The cost varies by county. To find out the fees, contact the district clerk’s office or the statutory county court that handles family law issues in the county where you (the petitioner) live.
If you can’t afford the fees, you can ask a court to waive them by filling out and submitting a Statement of Inability to Afford Payment of Court Costs.
In an Adult Adoption Case, Who Is the “Petitioner”?
The “petitioner” is the individual who petitions the court for an adoption order.
If the petitioner is married, both spouses must join the adoption petition as petitioners.
Note: While the spouse of a petitioner in an adoption case must also join the case as a petitioner, the spouse may ask the court to give the adoption to only one of the two spouses.
In an Adult Adoption Case, Who Is the “Respondent”?
The respondents are the adult’s biological parents.
In Texas, adult adoption can be approved without the inclusion of any “respondent” parties.
Plus because the individual being adopted is an adult, no notice of the adoption must be given to the adult’s biological parents, nor must the adult’s biological parents become parties to the action.
Is It Necessary to Terminate Parental Rights Before an Adult Can Be Adopted?
No, an order terminating parental rights is not required in adult adoptions in Texas or any state across the US.
Is It Necessary for the Adult Being Adopted to Consent to the Adoption?
Yes, the adult being adopted must give his or her written agreement to the adoption. This must be filed with the court.
Is It Necessary for Me to Appear in Court?
Yes, for the adoption hearing, both the petitioner(s) and the adult to be adopted must appear in court.
Note: If you have a compelling reason why either the petitioner(s) or the adult to be adopted cannot attend the hearing, you can request that the court create an exemption so that neither party is needed to be in court. This is a rare exception that only applies if you have "good cause" and the judge writes a written order stating that neither party to the adoption is needed to appear in court.
What Gets Decided in an Adult Adoption Case?
Adoption as an adult:
- Makes the adopted adult the adoptive parent’s son or daughter (s)
- Creates the right of the adopted adult to inherit from his or her adoptive parents.
- The adopted adult does not inherit anything from or via his or her biological parents.
- The adopted adult’s name can be changed (if requested)
It’s important to note that adult adoption has no bearing on immigration status or benefits.
Will the Adult Adoption Be Automatically Approved (Ordered) By the Judge?
A judge will not authorize (or order) an adult adoption if the judge believes:
- The adoption is being requested as a scheme to avoid a legal duty (such as paying a debt)
- A party to the adoption is not consenting to it voluntarily (for example, due to a disability or duress)
What You Should Know About Adult Adoption
The following are pretty vital pieces of information you should know before getting into adult adoption
- A common occurrence in adult adoption is when a stepparent adopts their long-term stepchild. The biological parent either decline to grant written approval or his/her whereabouts were unknown when the family discussed it in the past.
- Once a potential adoptive reaches the age of 18, the adoption process is a little easier than it would be if he or she were a youngster. The biological parent, for example, does not need to be notified.
- The adult adopter must sign a paper declaring that he or she wishes to be adopted, that he or she will be a party to the litigation, and that he or she will appear in court.
- Both the adult adoptee and the adopting parent should expect to be questioned about their past.
- If the prospective adopting parent is married and his or her spouse is not the biological parent of the adoptee, that spouse must either engage in the adoption or sign a specific document saying that they agree with their spouse’s adoption of the adoptee, which the judge must specifically authorize. (For example, after the biological mother dies, the stepfather remarries and decides to adopt the stepson.) Stepdad’s present spouse must either adopt the adult stepson as well or sign a document approving the adoption.
- In some situations, it may be best to wait until the child reaches the age of 18. For example, a bio mom has a lifestyle and associates with people who are harmful to her child. The bio father has remarried, and he and his new wife are raising the child, who has never met her biological mother. Contacting bio mom, despite her lack of interest in the child, is likely to result in her declining the request and requesting unsupervised visitation. Leaving her alone has shown to keep things quiet in the past, whereas her presence in the child’s life causes confusion and even danger.
- The adult adoptee does not have to change his or her last name if he or she does not like to; the adoption will remain lawful.
- Adopting an adult in the United States has no immigration implications.
- Adoption of an adult child grants the adopted adult child the ability to inherit from the adoptive parent and the legal status of his or her kid. (However, it does not provide immigration benefits).
- The state of Texas can issue an amended birth certificate that includes the adopted parent’s name. However, obtaining this can take several months. In the interim, a certified copy of the court order authorizing the adoption serves as documentation of the adoption until the new birth certificate arrives.
Adult Adoption: What Are the Benefits?
It’s crucial to understand the difference between adult adoption and guardianship. Legal guardianship is meant to assist in the protection and provision of an adult who is unable to care for himself or herself. Guardians have the authority to act on behalf of the person for whom they have custody, making legal, financial, and health choices on their behalf.
In any case, adoptions of adults are conducted for a variety of reasons:
- Birth Family: After locating his or her birth family, an adult adoptee may choose to be adopted by his or her biological family.
- Foster Child: If a former foster child who was not legally available for adoption as a child and got close to the foster family as a child wishes, they may be adopted as an adult.
- Inheritance: A means of establishing legal inheritance rights in a relationship.
- Step-Child: A step-child who has grown attached to his or her step-parent may be adopted by the step-parent as an adult.
Adult Adoption Drawbacks
Adult adoption may be prohibited by state law for the following reasons:
- Set Age Difference: If a set age difference between the adoptive parent and the adopted child is required by the state.
- Incest: The state’s incest laws will apply if the adoptive parent and the adopted adult “kid” have a sexual relationship.
- Legalizing a relationship: Adoption laws may not be utilized to legitimize an adult relationship between same-sex partners in some jurisdictions, such as New York. Delaware, on the other hand, said it was fine to use adult adoption to generate inheritance rights provided that was the primary goal of the adoption.
Some states (particularly Alabama, Arizona, Nebraska, and Ohio) prohibit adoptions unless the adoptee fits certain criteria, which may include a maximum age of 21.3 years.
Can You Adopt An Adult? (Procedure)
Adoptions are handled by states rather than the federal government.
As a result, each state has its unique set of forms and paperwork that must be completed. The following are the basic steps to take:
- Pick up the necessary paperwork at your local courts.
- With or without the assistance of a lawyer, gather the information you’ll need to complete the paperwork. You may need to fill out additional forms if the person you’re adopting isn’t mentally or physically capable.
- Fill out the form and sign it in front of a notary (most banks offer free notary services), and have the notary sign and emboss it.
- Follow the procedures for submitting your documentation.
- Wait for a Family Court court date.
- Appear in front of a family judge, who will make a decision on your case.
As previously stated, a judge may question or deny an adult adoption for a variety of reasons. The adoptee’s needs and rights are always the most crucial considerations. The judge will take into account the adoptee’s needs and wishes while also ensuring that all legal criteria have been met.
Can You Adopt an Adult FAQs
Yes, you can adopt an adult. However, you will have to ensure you meet every demand of the court. You will also have to get the services of an attorney.
The time duration for adopting an adult is dependent on a ton of factors. Some of these factors include the willingness of the adoptee to follow through with all of the processes.
The procedure for adult adoption varies with state and county. The process is different for each location in the US. So your best bet to get the information you need is to make inquiries.
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