We usually think of adoptions occurring when the adopted person is a minor, but in many states, a person can be adopted at any age. The reasons for an adult adoption vary from case to case, but Illinois does allow for an adult to become adopted if the case meets certain provisions.
The Illinois Adoption Act allows an adult to be adopted if he or she has lived in the home of the prospective adopting parents for at least two years. If neither of the prospective parents are a biological relative to the adult to be adopted, then the prospective parents and the person being adopted must have had a clear parent-child relationship during those two years. Perhaps most importantly, the adult being adopted must give full consent for the adoption.
Reasons for choosing adult adoptions
Why would an adult want to enter into an arrangement that is usually reserved for children? There are several reasons:
- The need for a family never goes away, even at any age. An adoption is a way of formalizing the bonds that some adults feel with those who are not their blood relations. In some cases, a non-biological spouse would like to adopt a child whom he or she has raised since childhood. In some states, it’s not legal for the partner of a non-married couple to adopt, so the family may have been legally unable to perform an adoption at an earlier time.
- Family unity can also be a reason to adopt an adult. In some cases, a family wishes to adopt a group of siblings, but by the time the adoption goes through, the elder children will have already turned 18. In these cases, the prospective parents want all of the children adopted at the same time, regardless of their ages.
- Inheritance rights can also be a reason. In many cases, trust funds and beneficiaries speak of “relatives” and “children” in a general sense without naming specific names. By far, inheritance rights are the most common reason for adoption of adults.
- Elder care will present challenges as the Baby Boomer generation ages. Many older people are left without living blood relations to consent to their care. Adopting an adult child will ensure that they will have next-of-kin whom medical staff and the courts can consult.
Other issues surrounding adult adoption
In Illinois, adoption of a adult does not necessarily eliminate the rights of the adoptee’s biological parents. If one or both of the biological parents are still living, that should be a consideration before the decision to begin an adoption proceeding.
Since this kind of adoption is between consenting adults, the process is usually much simpler than the process required for adoption of a minor child. But in order to ensure that the process goes smoothly, it could be helpful to secure the advice of an attorney before starting adoption proceedings.
Adoption of adults is a process that has grown due to concerns over inheritance planning and the need for aging adults to have a next-of-kin in place for future health issues. Illinois is one of a handful of states that allow for adult adoptions, and an attorney may be a helpful guide through the process.