Adult adoptions are a beautiful choice to affirm the relationship of parent and child. Sometimes adult adoptions are stepparent or grandparent adoptions. Other times, the adoptive parent(s) are not related by blood. None of the typical requirements such as a home study or waiting period apply in adult adoptions. The primary condition for an adult adoption is consent by the parties. Sometimes adult siblings are adopted together on the same “Gotcha” day!
The first question many people ask is whether the biological parent whose rights are being terminated must be served, or provided formal notice of the proceeding. Tennessee attorneys handle this differently. Some attorneys have taken the position that the parent whose rights will be terminated should be notified of the Petition because such a fundamental relationship is impacted. There are also significant implications for inheritance and decision-making for next-of-kin.
Other lawyers take the position that since there is no defense to termination of parental rights in an adult adoption, notifying the individual whose rights will be terminated is not necessary. Even if they receive notice, they have no right to a hearing to contest the adoption.
At the Adoption Law Center, your attorney will discuss your history with the individuals involved. We will explain your options so that you can make the best decision for you and your family. We typically encourage Petitioners to notify the parent whose parental rights will be terminated.
For adoptions of individuals 21 years and younger, inheritance laws apply the same to an adult adoptee as a birth child. However, if the adoptee is over 21 at the time of the adoption, the parents must specifically identify him or her by name in their will if they want the adoptee to be a beneficiary of their estate. Sometimes families are reluctant to discuss this, but it is an important part of protecting the people you love the most.
Typically, the only court appearance is the final hearing. This day is special, and usually involves some tears of joy and relief as the relationship of parent and child is finally acknowledged under the law after what is often many years of love and commitment. The simplicity of the process also allows adult adoptions to be relatively inexpensive.
A request for a name change can also be included in the Petition. As with all adoptions, the court orders the State in which the adult adoptee was born to issue a new birth certificate that reflects the parental relationships established in the adoption decree and any name change.