Adults, Adoption Of

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adults, adoption of

Refers to the adoption of a person who is over age 18 by another adult, usually for reasons of inheritance or to make official a long-standing informal parent-child relationship. The adopted adult voluntarily consents to the adoption, as does the adopter. In some states, notice of the adoption to birthparents may be required despite the adult status of the adopted person, and in other states, permission from the adopted person's spouse is required.

The overwhelming majority of all adoptions are of adults adopting children; however, it is legally permissable in all states for adults to adopt other adults if no fraud is intended. The laws governing the adopting of adults vary from state to state, as do restrictions. In many cases, the adopting party must be older than the person adopted.

According to Irving J. Sloan, author of The Law of Adoption and Surrogate Parenting, an adult may not adopt another adult in Illinois unless the person to be adopted has lived with the prospective adopter for at least two years.

Also, Sloan says only those who are permanently disabled or retarded or those who established a foster child relationship or stepchild relationship while the person to be adopted was still a child may be adopted in Ohio.

In some cases, an adult homosexual may have attempted to adopt another adult homosexual as a way to create a legal relationship since they may not legally marry. However, some courts have denied such petitions on the grounds that such an adoption is not in the best interests of society in general; for example, in 1984 an adoption was denied in New York because of a lack of a "genuine" parent-child relationship.

At least one state, Louisiana, allows the adoption of adults by creating and registering a private agreement between the two parties.

Gay couples who are interested in protecting each other's right of inheritance would be better served by contacting an attorney to draw up wills. In addition, several courts have held that homosexual individuals who have been involved in long-term relationships may inherit on the principle of an implied trust.

Adult adoption does not usually involve any HOME STUDY, since presumably the adult to be adopted can manage his or her own affairs and does not need the protection of a social worker's analysis of the adopter; however, some states may require a social worker's report for all adoptions.


Joan H. Hollinger, editor-in-chief, Adoption Law and Practice (New York: Matthew Bender, 1988).

Irving J. Sloan, The Law of Adoption and Surrogate Parenting (New York: Oceana Publications, 1988).

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