Traditionally, in Alabama, an adoption occurs when an adult obtains all of the legal rights and responsibilities of parenthood for a child under the age of 19. However, there is a practice in Alabama called adult adoption, wherein an adult, who is at least ten years older, adopts another adult as their child. While the rights and responsibilities of being a legal parent to an adult are markedly different, as the adopted adult is presumed to be able to make decisions on their own behalf and provide for themselves, there are cases where an adult adoption is desirable, or even necessary.
An adult adoption, quite simply, occurs when a consenting adult who is at least ten years older becomes the legal parent of another consenting adult. In Alabama, an adult may seek to adopt another adult who:
An adult adoption in the state of Alabama follows many of the same rules and procedures as a traditional child adoption. However, a major difference is that the adult adoptee’s prior legal parents do not have to be notified of or consent to having their parental rights severed. With that being said, just like children, adults can only have two legal parents, so proceeding with an adoption may sever an existing parent-child relationship.
Adopting an adult drastically cuts down on the amount of paperwork and legal fees when compared to a more traditional adoption of a child. However, it is always advisable to seek the guidance of an experienced Alabama adoption attorney to ensure that the process goes smoothly and no issues arise, as the law in this area can be complex. After consulting with an attorney, the parties must prepare a Petition for Adoption and will then have at least one hearing before the court before the adoption is finalized.
There are many reasons why an adult may seek to be adopted by another adult. One major reason is for inheritance purposes, as an adopted child, even one who was adopted as an adult, will inherit from their adoptive parents’ estates just as a biological child would. While it is possible – and common – for non-children and non-relatives to inherit, having a legally memorialized parent-child relationship simplifies the process and ensures that the adoptive child will inherit as any child would.
Another common reason why people consider adult adoption is in cases where the adoptive child suffers from a disability, either mental or physical. When an adult isn’t capable of caring for themselves due to a disability, an adult adoption allows for the adoptive parent to take on a larger role as a caregiver. The adult adoption gives the parent legal authority to make decisions on behalf of and provide for the special needs adult child.
Adult adoptions also happen in cases where two adults want to memorialize or strengthen an existing bond. For example, a stepchild may want to be adopted by a stepparent who played a major role in their life, or a foster child who was never legally adopted may want to memorialize their place with their foster family. Similarly, an adult may want to be adopted by their birth family if they reconnected later in life, or an adult who was raised by extended family, such as grandparents, a sibling, or an aunt and uncle, may want to make their bond an official parent-child relationship.
The Hankey Law Firm offers comprehensive family law services with over 55 years of combined experience in the field. If you are considering adopting – or being adopted – our team is prepared to use our knowledge and experience to guide you through the process and help you navigate your options. Our mission is to deliver compassionate, experienced, and responsive advocacy for any and all of your family law needs, with representation tailored to your specific circumstances. We proudly serve the people of Cullman County, Blount County, Madison County, Morgan County, and beyond across the great state of Alabama. Contact us today or call us at (256)-736-8744 so we can get started advocating for you.