When we think about adoption, we tend to picture a loving couple adopting a baby or young child, but we rarely think about all the adult children in need of the love and care of a parent. You are never too old to need a parent. As adult children, we regularly call our parents to ask why the yellow light in our car is flashing or whether we can mix the darks and the whites in the wash (wash it on cold!). By legally adopting another adult you can ensure that parent/child relationship is legally protected.
1. Who Can be Adopted?
PA Statute 23 § 2311 states that any individual may be adopted, regardless of age or residence. Any adult 18 and older may adopt another adult 18 and older. It does not matter that the adoptive parent is younger than the adoptee (the person being adopted) if both are 18 and older.
Because adult adoptions involve two adults, there is no need to terminate the birth parents’ rights as both are consenting adults. However, State law does require that the adoptee consent to being adopted. This can look like writing a statement or checking a box and confirming the same at any adoption hearing in front of a Judge.
2. How Can I Adopt an Adult in Pennsylvania?
When you adopt an adult in Pennsylvania, you are not required to go through the lengthy process at an adoption agency, complete a home study or submit to numerous background checks. All that is necessary is for the adoptee or adoptive parents to file a petition, an original birth certificate, and the filing fee. The adoptee may also choose whether or not to change their name.
It’s important to note that each county has a slightly different process for submitting paperwork. For example, Montgomery County, Chester County and Bucks County have Adoption Packets online that provide templates for the adoptee/petitioner to use and file with the Court. Berks County offers no such templates. Additionally, Chester County, among others, requires acknowledgment or proof that the adoptee is currently a resident of Chester County. These form templates are a good place to start to determine what information the Court requires for submission.
3. Do I Have to Change my Name?
This question might have an obvious answer, but you also may be pleasantly surprised to learn that changing your name is entirely up to the adoptee. The adoption process makes no requirement upon the adoptee to change their name. However, if you decide to change your name, the Courts require that you submit to a criminal background check through fingerprinting, which must accompany your Petition for adoption. Additionally, the adoptee/petitioner must also perform a lien search. Once the paperwork is filed, a hearing will be scheduled that both the adoptee and adoptive parent(s) must attend. Courts will also ask that you advertise the notice of hearing to ensure others who wish to contest the name change have a right to be heard.
4. When is an Adult Adoption Prohibited?
The Court is likely to grant most, if not all, adult adoptions that pass through their doors. The following are circumstances where an adoption will not be granted:
- If there’s a pre-existing sexual relationship between the adoptive parent and the adoptee.
- If the adult adoptee or adoptive parent has been convicted of a felony or faces criminal charges.
- If the adult adoptee is not competent enough to understand the process.
- Where there are fraudulent reasons for the adoption.
If you are considering adult adoption, contact an attorney at Cornerstone Law Firm today. We can help you decide whether adult adoption is right for your family.