Site icon Pro Legal Care LLC

Adult Adoption: Process, Reasons, and Legal Requirements

photo of parents and adult daughter from Pro Legal Care LLC blog post about adult adoption

Adult adoption, the legal process of adopting an individual aged 18 or above, is a distinctive area of family law. The process of adult adoption is sometimes overlooked. The reason is adoptions often deal with parental rights, and parental rights are mostly eliminated when the child reaches the age of adulthood. However, there is a critical legal parent-child relationship that still exists for adult children and their parents. The legal parent-child relationship still exists as long as they live, except when there’s an adoption. It’s more than just a legal formality. Adult adoption is a life-altering decision that carries significant legal, financial, and emotional implications.

Quick Answers

Exploring the Reasons Behind Adult Adoption

Adult adopting is an uncommon occurrence that may elicit surprise and intrigue. Why would somebody want an adult adoption? The reasons for adult adoptions are manifold, ranging from inheritance rights to the formalization of existing relationships, and even caring for adults with disabilities. This includes SSI benefits, tort or injury claims, and other benefits that a person’s child is legally entitled to. Indeed, adult adoptions occur for various reasons that are unique to each situation.

Notably, adoption agencies that are often involved in child adoptions are not required or utilized in the process of an adult adoption. This eliminates the need for matching services and allows for the adoption to occur on an expedited basis. Instead, those interested in adult adoption can approach an adoption attorney directly without ever needing to involve and adoption agency.

Inheritance Rights and Financial Benefits

One of the key reasons behind adult adoption is to secure inheritance rights and financial benefits. Adopting an adult grants legal recognition as a family member, permitting inheritance rights and financial benefits for both parties involved. These rights can come into play when a claim is made by the adoptive parent or made by an adoptive child. For example, the parent child relationship must be legally recognized when someone seeks to obtain SSI benefits or sues for wrongful death of their parent, and making the relationship legal with an adult adoption can protect the family in these situations.

This process of adult adoption can significantly influence estate planning and wealth transfer. It enables distributions of family wealth in ways that may not have been originally considered or legally permitted. An adult adoption can also be employed as an estate planning tactic to secure the adoptee’s financial well-being.

Formalizing Existing Relationships through Adult Adoption

Adult adoption legally formalizes existing relationships like those between stepparents and stepchildren, or long-term caregivers and those they care for. An adult adoption can occur without necessarily involving the birth parents. This formalization can provide various benefits, including inheritance rights, long-term care, and the ability to create a previously non-existent parent-child relationship, solidifying the legal relationship between the parties.

The adoption process grants the adoptive parent legal rights and responsibilities akin to those of biological parents, fostering a stable and legally recognized relationship between the parties involved. The effect of an adult adoption is as if the child was born to the adoptive parent biologically.

Caring for Adults with Disabilities

An adult adoption can also serve as an option for those seeking to provide legal protection and perpetual care for adults with disabilities.

Importantly, adult adoption should not impact the disability benefits of the adopted adult. This can ensure that the adopted individual continues to receive the necessary support, while also allowing the adopted adult to benefit from the legal and emotional security that comes with being part of a family.

Adult Adoption Laws and Regulations by State

Interpreting adult adoption laws may be complex as they vary from state to state. These laws encompass a variety of aspects, from the eligibility criteria to state-specific requirements of notice.

Eligibility criteria might encompass the age of the adopted adult, their relationship to the adoptive parents, and residency requirements. The state-specific requirements may involve obtaining consent from spouses, court approval, filing a Petition for Adult Adoption with the Court, and providing verifying legal documentation.

Adoption cases are not open to the public and are considered to be sealed cases. You may be able to have your loved ones accompany you to an adoption, but the general public is typically off limits. The level of restrictions in your adoption case can also vary by judge. Some adoption judges allow the families to take photos, with or without the judge in the picture, so that the family can look back on this and fondly remember this momentums occasion.

Eligibility Criteria for Adult Adoption

Eligibility criteria for adult adoption vary from state to state. In Illinois, for instance, the individual must be at least 18 years old and either have a familial relationship with the adopting parents or have resided with them for a minimum period of time. Comprehension of your state’s specific laws is imperative before commencing the process of adult adoption. You should consult with an adoption attorney, if you are interested in pursuing an adult adoption.

State-Specific Requirements

State-specific requirements for adult adoption can be quite diverse. For instance, if the adult being adopted is married, some states require the consent of the adopted person’s spouse. The adopted adult must give their official consent in order to be adopted, usually in writing under oath or before a judge. They will sign the document in the presence of a notary public, a court clerk, or the judge presiding over the adoption. The consent of the adult being adopted may not be required in extraordinary situations, such as when the adult suffers from a severe disability and is unable to consent. These requirements vary from state to state. As such, familiarizing oneself with the specific regulations that apply to adult adoption in their respective state is necessary.

The Adult Adoption Process: Step-by-Step Guide

Comprehending the adult adoption process is important for anyone considering this significant decision. This process involves obtaining and completing the required pleadings, working with court legal professionals, attending court hearings, and providing your legal basis for adoption. Your request for adult adoption will be denied if you have not provided a sufficient legal basis. Once your formal written request for adoption is processed and granted, the judgment for adoption will be entered.

An important aspect to consider is that each state has distinct laws and requirements which must be adhered to throughout the entire process, making it imperative to seek the counsel of an adoption attorney. You may try to complete an adult adoption on your own without a lawyer, but that would expose you to serious risks.

Obtaining and Completing Required Forms

The first step in the adult adoption process is obtaining the necessary forms, which are normally called pleadings. They include the Petition for Adult Adoption, the Summons, and other documentation necessary to complete an adult adoption. These can often be acquired from the courthouse or via the internet. The forms must be meticulously filled out and plead the allegations that are required to obtain the relief sought.

Although it’s possible to complete these forms independently, it’s highly recommended to seek legal assistance. This helps ensure that all forms are accurately filled out, reducing the chances of any setbacks due to errors or omissions.

Working with an adoption attorney is central to the adult adoption process, as they will help you navigate the legal process involved. They are responsible for:

Lawyers can provide a range of services during the adoption process, including:

Typically, notice to the biological parent is not required. However, determining who must be served in the case is part of the job of your lawyer. Having a lawyer by your side is the best way to ensure a streamlined and efficient adoption process.

Attending Court Hearings

Attending court hearings is a fundamental part of the adult adoption process. Adoption cases are normally sealed cases that are not open to the public. Although it’s a private affair, but friends and family may attend if the judge permits. Both adopting parents and the adult to be adopted should be present at the final hearing.

Preparation for these hearings involves assembling the pertinent documents, formulating a set of queries, and completing the necessary documentation. Sworn testimony is taken under oath at the hearing. The result of these hearings is a judgment of adoption if the judge deems the adoption ready for finalization. The judgment of adoption serves as the proof of the adoption. The judgment for adoption is typically used to modify your birth certificate, change your name on your license, and for other legal purposes (such as to prove that you are now eligible to be on your adoptive parent’s insurance).

Adult adoption carries with it several legal implications and responsibilities. Adoptive parents assume numerous legal responsibilities and obligations for the adopted adult. These can include providing financial assistance, medical care, and other obligations.

Adult adoption may also affect the biological family. Adopting an adult child can have consequences when it comes to inheritance. In this case, they may become ineligible to inherit from their biological family. This may result in the biological siblings receiving a greater inheritance as a result. You may also lose your right to other claims as well.

Adopted Adult’s Rights and Responsibilities and the Impact on the Biological Family

When an adult is adopted, they gain the same rights and responsibilities as a biological child, including inheritance rights and legal duties. Adoptive parents assume numerous legal responsibilities and obligations for the adopted adult. These include providing financial assistance, medical care, and emotional support. Thus, it’s important to understand that adult adoption is not a decision to be taken lightly, as it can come with a set of significant responsibilities.

Adult adoption can profoundly impact the biological family. For example, the legal relationship, such as that of a legal parent-child relationship, is normally required when someone sues for wrongful death. This opportunity for a claim involving your biological parents may be foreclosed when the relationship is terminated during the course of an adult adoption.

While it may terminate all legal connections to the biological family, it’s also important to consider the emotional ties. According to psychological research, adult adoption can lead to a sense of loss and grief for biological families, as they may experience feelings of abandonment or rejection. There may also be a shift in family dynamics and relationships as the adopted adult becomes part of a new family unit.


To sum up, to proceed with an adult adoption is a significant decision that carries considerable emotional, financial, and legal implications. Many people who want to be adopted as an adult realize that it’s part of their identity, and it simply formalizes an exiting relationship. Whether it’s pursued for the purposes of updating your birth certificate, securing inheritance rights, for benefit purposes, or for other reasons, it’s a journey that requires careful consideration, extensive knowledge, and legal expertise.

Schedule a Consultation with Adoption Attorney Zachary Townsend

Call or text today – (815) 200-8802

During your consultation, Attorney Townsend will go over the history of your legal matter, ascertain your goals, and help you develop a new path forward for you and your family.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can my step dad adopt me if I’m 30?

Yes. Adults can be adopted by their stepparents at any age, without having to worry about objections from the biological parent. If you have already reached adulthood, consent from your biological parent is not necessary for your step-parent to adopt you.

Can I adopt an adult in Illinois?

Yes, adult adoption is permitted in Illinois with different requirements that are different from the requirements for a minor child adoption. It can provide options for those seeking additional disability care, inheritance or other benefits, or other rights that requires a legal parent-child relationship.

What is the max age to put someone up for adoption?

There is no maximum age for adoption.

What is the process of adult adoption?

Adult adoption is a process that involves filing a petition for adult adoption in court, attending one or more court hearings, providing testimony under oath, and obtaining a judgment for adoption.

Exit mobile version