Can Adults be Adopted?

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All state statutes either explicitly or implicitly allow the adoption of adults by other adults. For a summary of adoption laws, visit our "Executive Summary of Adoption Laws Section" online.

Below is some general information on how the procedure should work; it may be slightly different depending on the State in which you live. For more information, contact the local Family Court, or the court in your county that handles adoptive placements.

Steps for an adult adoption:

1. Contact the court in your county that handles adoptions.

Adoptions may be handled in juvenile court, family court, surrogacy court, or probate court. Ask to speak to the court clerk or other employee who can provide information about adult adoptions. Court employees may not dispense legal advice but they can give you information on court requirements. Many courts have an information packet that will be mailed to you. If the court does not have a prepared packet, find out in your phone call:
1. If court regulations require that you be represented by an attorney during adoption proceedings, or whether you can represent yourself in an adult adoption.
2. Where you can obtain the required legal forms used in the adoption petition.
3. The amount of the filing fee required when the petition is filed.

2. Obtain required legal forms.

Many States have designated certain publishing companies to stock and sell to the public legal forms for court procedures. If you are represented by an attorney, he or she will complete this for you as part of his/her legal representation services.

3. Submit required legal paperwork.

Submit required legal paperwork and the filing fee. Again, if you are represented by an attorney, this will be handled by him/her at the adoption hearing.

4. Await notification of a court hearing date.

A hearing date is assigned in consultation with the judge's or magistrate's schedule, your attorney's schedule, and the court calendar. You may be notified of the hearing date by mail or by your attorney. You usually are required to attend this hearing.

5. Appear at the hearing.

Court hearings are held to allow the judge or magistrate hearing the case to question the parties involved. Your attorney will advise you about how adoption hearings are conducted in a particular court. At the hearing, the parties to the adoption petition may be asked to present testimony showing the existence of a parent-child relationship among the parties named in the petition. At the end of the hearing, the judge or magistrate will set a date for the finalization of the adoption. Your attorney will advise you whether or not you will be required to attend the finalization hearing.

6. Finalize the adoption.

A final decree of adoption is issued when the adoption is finalized. Adoption certificates are issued at this hearing. You may wish to request additional copies of this legal document for your files.

7. Apply for amended birth certificates.

After the adoption is finalized, you can apply for amended birth certificates to be issued

This material has been taken from the National Adoption Information Clearinghouse Web site as reviewed and approved for addition to this site on January 15, 2004.

The National Adoption Information Clearinghouse http://naic.acf.hhs.gov, can be reached toll free at 1-888-251-0075,or by e-mail at: naic@calib.com.
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