Adult adoptions are the quintessential act of love and commitment. There is nothing necessary about them. Families (or families of choice) can demonstrate their feelings through their words and actions and account for their loved ones in their wills.

Adult adoptions require the agreement of the parent (Petitioner) and the adult child (Co-Petitioner). They jointly file a Petition for Adult Adoption in the county in which the parent resides. The biological parent whose rights are to be terminated is the Respondent. There may be more than one Respondent. In the case of an adult stepparent adoption, the involved parent retains their parental rights, and their spouse adopts the adult child.

The Adoption Law Center of Middle Tennessee, PLLC recommends, and many Courts require, notice to the Respondent. The Respondent’s rights to inheritance is impacted as well as their legal relationship with the adult child therefore making it prudent that Petitioners attempt to notify them. However, there is no defense to an adult adoption.

In addition to having the parent-child relationship legally acknowledged, people often feel more secure knowing that the person they think of as their parent or child has those legal rights and responsibilities. They anticipate that when someone is hospitalized, it will be easier to make decisions if their loved one has the legal relationship of parent or child. Of course, there are also implications for receiving, or losing the ability to receive, benefits such as Veteran’s benefits, or social security benefits.

Some families wait until their child is 18 years old to file a Petition for Adult Adoption. Often, these are stepparent adoptions and the Petitioners avoid costly and stressful litigation if they anticipate the parent whose rights will be terminated will not agree to the adoption.

Adults can also request a name-change as part of the Petition for Adult Adoption. For people that find their last name to be a constant reminder of abandonment or abuse, having it changed is a relief. They are anxious to take on the name of a stepparent, relative, or someone else who has lovingly taken on the role of parent.

Co-Petitioners who are married and have already changed their names to their spouse’s last name can have their maiden name changed. In addition to reflecting the legal relationships on your birth certificate, the Adoption Law Center can request the Court order a change in your birth name on your birth certificate and your maiden name on your marriage license.

You’ll need to notify the Social Security Administration of the change and provide a copy of the Final Decree of Adoption to the U.S. Department of State if you have a passport. You can also request that your social security number be changed if you feel that is necessary to protect yourself and your identity.

The Adoption Law Center of Middle Tennessee, PLLC is always honored to help families with adult adoptions. Contact us today with any questions you may have about adult adoption or if you are ready to proceed with an adult adoption!

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