It is indeed possible to adopt an adult. When we hear the word adoption, we usually think immediately of children, but there are situations in which an adult is the person being adopted. Adoptions are regulated by state law, and every state has different rules and procedures for the adoption process.
What are Some Reasons for Adult Adoption?
Adoption is not the same as guardianship; legal guardianship is a temporary way to help safeguard and provide for an adult who cannot care for themselves. A guardian can make legal, financial, and health decisions for the person they are taking care of. Adoption, on the other hand, is the establishment of a parent-child relationship by judicial order for two people who are not a natural parent and a child. This gives legal rights for the person being adopted. The legal process is the same regardless of the age of the person being adopted. The adoptee will receive a new birth certificate, existing legal relationships with biological or custodial parents are severed, and all adoption records are sealed. If so desired, the adopted adult can change his or her last name as well.
There are a variety of different reasons why someone would want or need to adopt an adult. Perhaps the most common is that of blended families. A parent who has stepchildren who are older may want to make their family ties official by adopting them.
Another common reason for adult adoption is as a legal tool to give inheritance rights to another adult where no familial relationship exists. This makes the transfer of financial assets and property rights to the adoptee easier.
Through genetic testing, many people who were adopted as babies have been able to find their birth families. After successfully being reunited, these adults may choose to be adopted by their family of origin. And fathers who discover a child of whom they were never aware may want to make the relationship formal through the process of adoption. As with any adoption, this means legal ties to the previous family are cut.
Foster children who develop close ties to their foster family are not always legally available to be adopted, although the family would like to do so. As an adult, that person can be adopted into the family if they wish. This can be a significant step for children who have aged out of foster care and cannot or do not wish to return to their biological families.
Adult adoption can also help an orphaned, isolated, or disabled adult who needs perpetual care. Adoption is a permanent legal option so that one adult can provide care and assume responsibility for another adult.
What are the Laws in Maryland Regarding Adoption?
Maryland state law allows for any person to be adopted; however, children over 10 must give consent if their natural parent’s rights have been terminated. Adults are not barred from being adopted, and adopting an adult follows the same basic process as for adopting a minor. The person adopting may be single, married, or a same-sex couple. Unless they are legally separated, a married couple must act jointly to adopt someone. The other exceptions are when one spouse is incompetent, or one spouse is the natural parent of the adoptee.
What Are Some Potential Problems Adopting an Adult?
The court granting the adoption of an adult can reject the application if it suspects any type of fraud or improper relationship between the two parties. For instance, any sexual relationship would be problematic and violate incest laws since adoption is the legal formalization of the parent-child relationship. In some states, age can be an issue if the adoptee is older than the person adopting them.
In reviewing adult adoption cases, the court will want to make sure the adopting party has fully consented and understands the implications of the bond, particularly in cases in which the person doing the adopting is wealthy and/or elderly. In fraudulent cases of adoption, a person may propose to a wealthy individual that they be adopted to inherit their fortune. This type of fraud can include property, insurance, or marital issues.
What are the Steps of the Adult Adoption Process?
Adopting an adult follows the same process as adopting a minor with a few minor variations. The process begins by filing a petition for adoption. The petition states, among other things, the name, address, age, business, or employment and employer of each petitioner as well as the name, sex, and date and place of birth of the person to be adopted. The petitioners must state any facts that indicate that a party has a disability that makes them incapable of consenting or participating in the process. Documents such as birth certificates, marriage certificates, divorce decrees, and income statements must accompany the petition. Both the person adopting and the adoptee must consent to the adoption; consent is not required from the parents of an adult adoptee.
Once the petition is filed, a hearing will be held before the court either grants or denies the petition for adoption. Home studies are not required for adult adoption. However, to determine if the adoption is in the best interest of all involved parties, the court may order an appropriate investigation. After investigations and reports are filed with the court and the hearing is finished, the court will grant or deny the petition.
Towson Family Law Lawyers at Huesman Jones and Miles, LLC Provide Experienced Counsel for Adult Adoptions
If you are considering adult adoption or for any family law matter, you can turn to the Towson family law lawyers at Huesman Jones and Miles, LLC. Our legal team is available to offer you experienced legal guidance and support. For more information and a free consultation, complete our online form or call us at 443-589-0150. Located in Hunt Valley and Towson, Maryland, we serve clients throughout Baltimore, Baltimore County, Bel Air, Bentley Springs, Columbia, Freeland, Hereford, Hampton, Westminster, Essex, Monkton, Sparks Glencoe, Parkton, Phoenix, Pikesville, White Hall, Carroll County, Harford County, and Howard County.