When people hear about adoption, their first thought is that of a family adopting a newborn. Or maybe they think of a family flying across the world to bring home a toddler in need of a loving home. What people may not realize is that there are other types of adoption too, such as step-parent adoption, grandparent adoption and adult adoption.
Step-parent adoption is one of the most common forms of adoption in the United States. A step-parent who adopts becomes the legal parent and fully responsible for their spouse’s child. After the adoption takes place, the non-custodial parent has no rights for the child. This includes child support.
Generally, most states make the adoption process easier for a step-parent. There may not be a home visit, but there usually is a criminal background check. Some states require the adopting step-parent to be living with and married to the child’s parent for at least a year. Unless the child has been abandoned, the noncustodial parent must give consent to the adoption. In nearly all states, an older child (minimum age 10-14) must give consent to the adoption as well.
Grandparent adoption is one of several legal options available to grandparents, and gives the grandparents full legal parental rights. However, in order to gain legal custody of their grandchild, they have to bring a legal proceeding against the child’s parent(s), one of whom is their child. The court must decide on the best situation for the child, and this process can be long and emotional.
The main reason grandparents may adopt their grandchild(ren) is if the parents have become incapacitated or deceased. Unfortunately, other reasons a grandparent may seek legal custody is because the parents have been abusive or neglectful to the child, they have abandoned the child, or they have been incarcerated. If the parents are alive, this could cause the relationship with the grandparents to be strained, as the judge has to decide what is in the best interest of the child.
Adult adoption is the legal process of adopting a person over the age of the majority, as determined by the state in which they reside. The most common reason for adult adoption is to legalize a parent/child-like relationship. The adopted person would then be legally able to inherit from the adoptive parent.
Another reason for adult adoption is to provide protection for a person with disabilities or cognitive delays. Once adopted as a family member, that person is guaranteed a lifetime of care under the family insurance or through an inheritance.
One more reason for adult adoption is for a child exiting the foster care system to have a more “permanent” feeling of family. If they have been living with a foster family and have established a close bond with them, they can be legally adopted by that foster family.
Like the more recognized types of adoptions, these adoptions are governed by the laws of the state. And like all adoptions, the goal is to create forever families for all those needing one.