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The vast majority of adoptions involve minor children. Most of these involve stepparent adoptions. Unless a stepparent adopts his spouse’s child, he has no legal obligation or responsibility toward that child. And, without an adoption, the child has no right to inherit from the stepparent, and neither has the legal authority to make medical decisions for the other. Sometimes, stepparents have to wait until the stepchild becomes an adult because the natural parent will not consent to the adoption while the child is a minor. Adopted children, minors or adults, have the same legal rights as biological children.
Historically, mature people that were unable to have children would adopt adults to continue the family name. The adoption also allowed them to pass their property by inheritance without a legal process or paying taxes, to someone they had chosen instead of allowing it to go to the state when they died.
In California, adult adoptions are regulated by the California Family Code. The law requires the adoptive parent and the adult adoptee to sign a written Adoption Agreement. The agreement formally creates a legal parent-child relationship with all of the rights, duties, benefits and obligations of that relationship. If the adoptee is an adult, he or she can annul or terminate the adoption by filing a petition in court and notifying the adoptive parent. The adult adoption petition must include the following information:
Legal adoption terminates the duties, obligations, and responsibilities of the birth parents, except where an adult is adopted by the spouse of a birth parent. In that case, the rights of the birth parent are not affected by the adoption. For this reason, some women choose to delay the stepparent adoption until the child reaches his eighteenth birthday. If the mother has obtained a child support order against the child’s father, his obligation to pay will continue until the child is 18 years old. When the child turns 18, the biological father’s obligation to pay ends, unless the child is a full time student.
Adult adoptions do not provide immigration benefits since children must be adopted before the age of sixteen and must have resided with the adopting parent for at least two years. A stepparent can immigrate a stepchild, even without an adoption, if the marriage creating the relationship occurs before the child is 18 years old and the child remains unmarried.
If you or someone you know, is considering adopting either a minor or an adult, I strongly recommend that you discuss the decision with an attorney that specializes in family law before actually filing the petition. Always use every benefit the law provides and ¡NO SE DEJE! ®
Jess J. Araujo, Esq.