Families come in all shapes and sizes, and they change as children become adults. Adults who have emancipated from foster care or those who do not have supportive family relationships know firsthand that families look different for everyone. They understand that the pain caused by the lack of meaningful family connections can linger well into adulthood. The truth is you never outgrow the need for a family.
However, many young people do enter adulthood with a strong connection to a supportive adult — such as a guardian, relative, teacher, mentor, coach or former foster parent — who has become a parent figure.
Adult adoption is the formalization of an existing parent-like relationship. It establishes a family for a young adult and a permanent, life-long connection. There is no age limit for adoption, and the adult adoption process is significantly different from the process to adopt a minor.
What is Adult Adoption?
An adult adoption is a court process that creates a legal relationship between a person older than 18 who wishes to be adopted and an adult or adults who wish to adopt. When a petition for an adult adoption is granted by a judicial officer, usually a judge, a formal and lasting relationship is formed. An adult adoption also has the additional benefit of allowing the adult adoptee to receive the emotional and psychological benefits from having a legally recognized family.
Adult adoptions should be considered when more traditional forms of adoption may be challenging or when a young person is 18 or older. An adult adoption provides the adopted adult with legal status for inheritance and also demonstrates the whole family’s commitment to the relationship.
Adult Adoption’s Impact On Benefits
An adult’s benefits should not be affected by an adult adoption because the adopting parents are not obligated to financially support their adult child. If the adoptive parents provide financial support then that support may be considered when the adoptee applies for financial assistance, such as a scholarship, that includes a needs assessments.
Before completing an adult adoption, check with the agencies and/or organizations that provide benefits and ensure that the benefits will not be impacted.
- Medicaid –Adult adoption does not affect Medicaid eligibility.
- Chafee Independent Living Program- For young people who were in foster care on or after their 18th birthday, adult adoption does not affect eligibility for Chafee services. Chafee services are available until a young person turns 21.
- Independent Status for Financial Aid- Adult adoption will not affect a student’s eligibility for independent status if they were in foster care at any point after their 13th birthday. Independent Status allows the student’s financial aid to be calculated without regard to the parent’s income
- Education and Training Vouchers (ETV)- Adult adoption will not affect eligibility for ETV’s, which must be received prior to turning 21 and can be extended until age 23, if the young adult is continuing to pursue a degree or certificate.
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI) - A young adult receiving adult SSI should not have their benefits affected by adult adoption.
The Adult Adoption Process
Overall, an adult adoption can be a quick process and can often be completed within 90 days. Adult adoption requires the consent of the adult wishing to be adopted as well as the individual, or individuals, wishing to adopt. Once everyone has discussed the level of commitment involved and is in agreement with moving forward, they should review the instructions and forms for adult adoption located at the Colorado Judicial Branch website. Completed forms must be filed with the local court that hears juvenile matters. When the forms have been properly filed with all parties in agreement a judicial officer, usually a judge, will decide whether or not to grant the adoption.
A lawyer is not required, but should be consulted if the family encounters any difficulty understanding the process or pursuing adult adoption.
A home study is not necessary to complete the adult adoption process.
The adoption generally does not require an actual hearing, but one can be requested when the paperwork is filed. A hearing may provide a formal symbol to the young adult of the commitment being made. A name change is not required in an adult adoption, but can be requested by the individual being adopted when completing the paperwork.
Adult adoption in Colorado does not affect the rights of biological parents, and they do not need to be notified of an adult adoption proceeding.
Adult adoption costs $167 per adult being adopted as well as $20.75 for each decree of adoption to be certified. If the person filing the paperwork cannot afford the adult adoption costs, he or she can complete paperwork with the court to request the cost to be waived. More information on adult adoption can also be found in the Colorado Revised Statutes at section 14-1-101, C.R.S.