Adult Adoption: What It Is & How To Get Started

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What Is Adult Adoption?

Adult adoption is the adoption of a person over the age of 18 into a new family or under supervision of a new parent. Since parent-child relationships don’t stop at 18, adoption doesn’t need to either. This form of adoption is controlled on the state level, so different laws will exist around the exact details and ways to go about adopting an adult.

One of the few variables in common across almost all states is that the adoption must be consensual between the adoptive parent and the adoptee. In many cases, there is an age limit at 21 or the requirement of a specific age gap between parent and child.

Other common laws include biological parental notification, no past history of sexual assault and no fraudulent activities. Due to these limitations, it’s important to review the laws or contact an attorney in your state.

Why Do People Choose Adult Adoption?

There are three main reasons to choose adult adoption including formalizing family ties, accessing inheritance, or taking care of a disabled person or someone with cognitive delays.

1. Formalizing family ties

Whether a step-parent has become an influential figure in an adult’s life or a foster family feels like home, adult adoption can be a way to legally recognize family ties. Adoption delays occur when parental figures emerge into an adoptee-to-be’s life later on or if adoption never felt right or necessary during youth.

2. Accessing inheritance

Because an inheritance is most easily accessible between family members, adult adoption can ensure that those close to you will be included in a will or inheritance.

3. Taking care of a disabled person

This option can make the legal issues of being a care-taker easier to manage. Becoming the legal parent of a person with diminished capacity can allow someone to qualify for lifelong care under insurance and can ensure necessary assets will be available for the person in care.

What Steps Need To Be Taken?

Adult adoption is usually a relatively straightforward process that likely doesn’t require a lawyer unless there are unusual circumstances. While adult adoption can be a unique situation for each case and each state, there are a few steps that can be necessary and helpful for anyone considering adult adoption.

1. Complete the paperwork

Necessary paperwork usually includes a Petition for Adult Adoption, Consent of Adult Adoptee, and Consent of Adult Adoptee Spouse. These documents may need a witness or to be notarized, so follow state steps carefully. If there are still ties to biological parents, this is the stage they need to be notified.

2. File the paperwork

Take paperwork to the Court clerk to file it and pay the necessary fees. Some courts might want to set a hearing date or you can request one if you would like to have this symbol of new family.

3. Receive the adoption order

Once the court approves the adoption, you will receive an adoption order. This finalizes the adoption and completes the process officially! At this point, make sure you save a copy of the order and take time to celebrate your new family.


Families may choose adult adoption for a multitude of reasons that are often similar to childhood adoption. Because the process is less expensive and complex, it can be a good option for families looking to create a formal and legal relationship between parent and child.

This article was written exclusively for Love What Matters by Anna Steingruber. Join the Love What Matters family and subscribe to our newsletter.

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