Can you adopt an adult?

Let’s say 50 year old couple meets and gets to know a 30 year old man/woman who they become very good friends. Let’s say also that the 30 year old has no parents…though it is hard to imagine this.

Could they all agree to an adoption and she/he joins family?

What about a younger couple adopting an older person who have no family?

I was thinking about this recently because of my first viewing of the film The Magic Christian, in which the Peter Sellers multimillionaire character, who is childless, adopts Ringo Starr’s character and makes him his heir and all-around #2 guy in his industries. Curious as to whether or not this is possible, or happens…

I had cause to research this for Florida, where it is the case. Other states may vary.

I know it’s possible in California, too, because I remember hearing about it in a criminal case. The owners of the dogs that killed Diane Whipple adopted a man in prison who had owned the dogs before they did.


“In 1922 Robert Allerton went to a Dad’s Day dinner at the Zeta Psi House, Champaign, where he met a young architecture student, John Wyatt Gregg. Gregg had lost both of his parents and Robert had no children, so they were paired for the day. They developed a father-son relationship which was to last throughout Robert’s life. After Gregg graduated in 1926, he went to work for the society architect David Adler, a close friend of Allerton. In 1931, because of the effects of the stock market crash, Gregg went to “The Farms” to live as Allerton’s architect and protege. Twenty-eight years later, in 1959, after a change in the Illinois law, Robert Allerton adopted John Gregg.”

(Not that there’s anything wrong with that.)

Er…my aunt just did almost exactly this. She’s 60-something, he’s my age, 30. She met him in India.

She had no progeny. It was easier to do, I think, because he was also getting citizenship at the same time. I don’t know many of the details, but I do know it’s possible.

Sure. See the Diane Whipple murder/manslaughter case. The Knollers, a married couple of lawyers aged 46 and 60, legally adopted Paul “Cornfed” Schneider, a 39-year-old convict.

If the reason for adoption is so the adoptee has to pay less taxes when he inherits…can’t that sort of thing also be accomplished by marriage? I’ve heard of marriages for exactly this reason. For instance between a rich elderly person with no kin, and a beloved nurse. In the Netherlands, the nurse can be male or female, now that gay marriage is possible.

In such weddings, the bride removes his or her oxygen mask just long enough to say: “I do”.

It’s possible here in Illinois, also with the consent of the person being adopted (actually, consent is needed after age 12, but from 12-18, you still need the biological parents’ consent, as well as the adoptee’s.)

A friend of mine was adopted at age 18 by the man who raised him with his mother. They had been unable to get his biological father’s consent all those years. At 18, they didn’t need it anymore - the son’s consent was enough.

Oh, I remember this vaguely from estates & trusts (I attended law school in IL so the answer may be different somewhere else). The answer is “yes” but you also have to prove a real “parent-child” relationship and there was some statutory requirement for residence between the parties. I think the purpose was to prevent people from “adopting” their lovers in order to ensure intestate succession and/or property transfers to “strangers” without protest from other interested parties. From what I remember it’s weighted towards situations where the adoptee has been in a parent-child relationship with the adopter for quite a while and has reached adulthood but the relationship was never formalised.

Aileen Wournos, the serial killer down here in Florida in the early 90s, was adopted during her trial.

Yes, in many cases, but only if the two involved are of opposite sex. Currently, Japan doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage, but they are pretty flexible on adoption (if both parties are adults, the only rule is that the adoptor must be at least one day older than the adoptee). This has been used by many homosexual couples here as a workaround to gain similar benefits as married couples (hospital visitation, joint accounts, co-signed mortgages, inheritance, etc.) that they wouldn’t be able to get otherwise.

More traditionally, adult adoption was often used here as part of the master-apprentice relationship. After working for X years learning the trade, the apprentice would often be adopted by the master (or would marry the master’s daughter, if possible), so that the business would pass to him and stay in “the family”. Today, a lot of old businesses announce that the owner is a “17th-generation noodle maker” or some such. Some of the generations may be genetically linked, but many are probably the result of apprentice adoptions.

I suppose technically, but if both are adults and the relationship is by adoption, who cares?

Straying from the OP for a moment, but didn’t Woody Allen and Soon Yi do this?

BTW another use of adult adoption sometimes occurs in Germany: some people with more money than sense get themselves adopted to acquire a noble name.

Poor von Noblename adopts Rich Commoner. The latter has paid a hefty sum to the former (under the table), and now is named Rich von Noblename.

No. Soon Yi was Mia Farrow’s adopted daughter, not Woody Allen’s. He never adopted her. That relationship is squicky soley on the grounds that he was in a long term relationship with Mia - although the two never married and never lived together, and Allen never lived with Soon Yi before their romantic relationship began.

I’ve mostly heard of adult adoption in cases where wealthy men wanted foreign wives…without the potential problems of inheritance and alimony. In some states, a spouse cannot be completely disinherited, even if you complete write them out of your will they will take a certain percentage. Or, a subsequent divorce can mean alimony and/or property division. An adopted daughter, theoretically, takes neither.

Beats a pre-nup in safety if not morality, I suppose. It might be that there are laws on the books now that prevent it, as I’ve never fully investigated it.

On the heart-warming side, I’ve also encountered it with adult children long since given up for adoption, who find their parent(s) later in life and choose to be adopted by them.

Here’s one cite for this sort of situation:

I remember such a case making the news a couple years ago. IIRC, the “child” was actually older than his new “father”. I believe it may have been in Maryland, but I couldn’t find anything online.

Another advantage (beyond inheritance rights) is that presumably it would give you those legal rights that are sometimes denied to gay couples (input into hospital end-of-life decisions, hospital visitation).

Wait, which states?

  1. An adopted child takes as a “blood” child would (I apologize for the term, this is just what we were taught in school). The only way to disinherit an adopted child would be to make it clear that you don’t want them to take from the estate. If you don’t write a will or your will is found to be void (faults aren’t curable) and your property passes by intestacy then your adopted child takes in the same way that a blood child would. Half-bloods are also treated as full-blooded siblings for the purposes of intestacy.

  2. In most states there’s a presumption after divorce that the portions of your will referring to your ex-spouse have been revoked as a matter of law due to the divorce. Generally if you don’t write a new will whatever you were planning on doling out will drop into the residue. In some states the presumption doesn’t arise and you have to affirmatively write the person out.

But you write the person out and they still get it? Are you sure you’re not confusing this with a pre-termitted spouse issue or community property? Because those are entirely different things.

So can you adopt someone as your brother or sister?