Adult Adoption

The Texas Family Code allows for the adoption of an adult.  An adult is anyone who is eighteen (18) years of age or older.  You may wonder why someone would even want to adopt an adult.  The most common reason is because the adult is well bonded with a stepparent and wants to have the same last name as all of the other members of the family.  In other cases, I have known people to adopt an adult because there is a large family trust that the adoptee would be available to benefit from, but only if they are adopted, as opposed to being only a stepchild.

I also had an adult adoption come up in one other way:  I had clients who took in a neighbor’s child who was being neglected.  The neighbor moved away and the family raised the child all the way through high school WITH NO PAPERWORK SHOWING THAT THEY HAD THE RIGHT TO POSSESS THE CHILD.  It was one of the craziest cases I’ve ever seen.  I don’t know how they were able to get the child enrolled in school (they had no birth certificate or social security card for the child) or even to get medical care for the child.  They were not able to find the mother after she moved away and no one knew who the father was.  The man who raised the child had a top security clearance and worked overseas building embassies for the US.  The family came to me because they wanted to get a passport for the child, so that she could go on a family vacation to visit the dad in Europe.  With no birth certificate or social security card, there was no way to get a passport.  However, the girl was eighteen (18) and we could do an adult adoption, get a new birth certificate issued, and the girl could then get a passport.  That is what we ended up doing and it was a joy to see their family legally become recognized for the family that it always had been.

Jurisdiction is proper in the district or statutory county court that is granted family law jurisdiction in the county where the petitioner resides.  NO NOTICE is given to the adult’s biological family.  Therefore, if there is a “problem parent” who has in the past refused to give up his or her rights to the child & has historically blocked any adoption, that parent is not allowed notice that the adoption is even taking place.  If the petitioner is married, both spouses must join in the petition for adoption.  Here’s what’s crazy about that last sentence:  if, in the typical situation, the stepdad wants to adopt the stepchild, he AND the biological mother must petition to both adopt the adult child!!  It makes no logical sense for the biological mother to have to adopt her own child, but that’s what the statute requires!

The consent of the adult to being adopted must be made in writing.  The petitioner and the adult who is being adopted must attend the hearing where the adoption is being heard.  If you can show good cause, the court may waive the attendance requirement by written order.  Examples of good cause could include ill health of one of the parties, military deployment of a party, and similar situations.

The court must allow the adoption if all the legal requirements have been met.  The adopted adult then becomes the son or daughter of the adoptive parents for all purposes.  The adopted adult is entitled to inherit from and through the adopted adult’s adoptive parents, just as if the adopted adult was the biological child of the adoptive parents.  The adopted adult may not also inherit from or through the adult’s biological parent.  The biological parent also may not inherit from or through the adopted adult.  The Texas Department of Health will issue a new birth certificate for the adult, changing the name of the adult (if desired) and reflecting who the new parents of the adult are.