Adult Adoption: Can You Adopt Another Adult?

Typically, people associate adoption with formally welcoming in a step or foster child into a family. But while focus tends to gear towards childhood adopts, there are many people who opt for adult adoption.

Why People Choose to Adopt Another Adult

There are many reasons why people may choose to adopt an adult.

  1. Inheritance. One of the most common reasons for adult adoptions is to establish legitimate inheritance rights between the adopter and adoptee. By formalizing an inheritance tie things like property leasing and bequeathment of financial assets becomes more streamlined.
  2. Formalizing existing relationships. Some people parent-child type relationships with people who are not their own blood. This can be for a variety of reasons. It’s possible that the older took on a guardian type responsibility for the younger when they were a child. Similarly, a step-parent may desire to legally adult and formalize their relationship with the children their spouse brought into the marriage. Or, possibly, a family wants to formally adopt a foster child they never had the chance to when the child was growing up. Either way, adult adoption allows for these types of solidification of connection and family ties.
  3. Birth family. It is also possible that someone was adopted as a child, meets their birth parents later in life, and decides they want to be legally reunited with them. Adult adoption allows for this as well.
  4. Care-giving. If someone is the care-giver of another adult who has physical or developmental delays, one may opt to adopt the other as a legal dependent. This gives the care-giver more legal authority to make decisions on behalf of the dependent with ease.

What the Process of Adult Adoption Looks Like

Adult adoption follows a very similar procedure to “normal” adoption. However, in an adult adoption, only the consent of the adoptee and the adopter are required. The parents of the adoptees do not need to consent to the adoption (though it is customary for them to be notified after the final hearing).

Unlike child adoptions, adult adoptions do not require a home study unless court order. If a home study is ordered, it is likely an investigation to make sure the adoption is in the adoptee’s best interests.

Once the process is completed, a new birth certificate will be issued with the names of the adopter(s) and adoptee.

At this point, the adoptee can opt to change their name legally.

If you are looking to adopt an adult in your life and have questions, give us a call and get in contact here.


Specific laws on adoption can be found on the Washington State Court’s website here.