Most states allow an adult to adopt another adult as long as both parties consent. However, some states restrict adult adoptions based on age differences, disability status, foster or stepparent relationships, or other factors.
Here’s an overview of adult adoption rules throughout the U.S.:
Can you be legally adopted over the age of 18?
In many parts of the U.S., the answer is yes. However, you will need to do some legal research to make sure you or the adult you wish to adopt is eligible.
In Washington State, you can be adopted at any age, including 18 years old or older. The adoptive parent must file a Petition, and the adult adoptee must file a Consent to Adoption form. The adoptive parent does not necessarily need to be older than the adult adoptee.
Which states and territories allow adults to be adopted?
Many U.S. states and territories allow adults to be adopted. Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Utah, Texas, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia all allow the adoption of any person, regardless of age.
In addition, an adult between the age of 18 and 21 may be adopted in Colorado, Rhode Island, American Samoa, and the Northern Mariana Islands.
Some states have restrictions based on the relative age between the adoptive parent and the adoptee. For example, Massachusetts, Nevada, Virginia, and Utah require that the adult being adopted is younger than the adoptive parent, with Nevada and Utah specifying that the age gap must be at least 10 years and Virginia specifying 15 years.
Are there restrictions on who can be adopted beyond the age requirements in some states?
Some states place restrictions based on residency, disability, or having a step parent/foster parent relationship. For example, West Virginia and Wisconsin both require adopting parents to be a resident of that state to adopt an adult.
Several states require a prior parental relationship between the adoptive parent and the adoptee or require the adoptee to have lived with the adoptive parent while they were still a minor. For example, Idaho, Illinois, South Dakota, and Virginia require the adoptive parent to have been in a sustained parental relationship for a specified time period.
Ohio only allows an adult to be adopted if they established a relationship with the adoptive parent while still a minor, are the child of the adoptive parent’s spouse, or are totally and permanently disabled.
Working with an Adoption Lawyer
Regardless of where you live, it’s a good idea to work with an adoption attorney. An experienced legal professional can help you handle legal paperwork, interface with adoption agencies, and begin the legal adoption process.
At Anderson Hunter Law Firm, our attorneys are experienced in a wide range of family law cases, including domestic, open, closed, foster care, second parent, step-parent, and international adoption. Check out our guide to adoption in Washington State or contact us for a free consultation.