Adoption is the process through which the natural parents’ rights and obligations toward their children are terminated, and the adoptive parents assume these rights and obligations. Once a child has been adopted, the natural or birth parents are no longer responsible for their child; the obligations that they have toward their child, likewise, cease to exist. It is as if the natural or birth parents become like any other third party with respect to the child. The adoptive parents become responsible for the child and all the obligations and rights between a parent and child are established between them.


The primary obligation flowing from a parent to a minor child is to be responsible for his/her health, education and welfare. When a parent adopts a minor child, the parent must then provide for the needs of the child.


The primary right that a child obtains from a parent is the right of inheritance of the estate. Although this right of inheritance may be altered by a Will or Trust, or other disposition of property, in the event that a parent dies without a Will, the parent’s children are entitled to the estate (all the property that the parent owned as of the date of death). Generally, an adopted child has no rights to the estate of his or her biological parents.


A person may adopt an adult as his/her child, if permitted under the state’s law. There may be special advantages to adopting an adult as a child, such as avoiding generation-skipping transfer tax when a person wants to provide the bulk of his/her estate upon death to a friend who is many years younger. Other factors, such as long-term emotional bonds, may cause one adult to adopt another adult as his/her child.


What Are the Steps in a Typical Adoption?


When an adoption is pending, the prospective adopting parents are generally screened by the adoption agency or a social service investigator assigned to your case. Certain documents need to be prepared and filed, several office interviews will take place, and a there will be a home visit. A written report with a recommendation for or against the adoption is prepared and forwarded to the court.


Most states require the adoptive parents to have temporary custody of the child to be adopted for a stated period of time. The purpose is to monitor the relationship of the child with the adopting parents in the home environment.


Because court procedures and local adoption rules vary from state-to-state, the advice of an attorney is usually necessary to ensure the proper procedures are followed. Failure to conform to state or local law may result in delays or in the court’s outright refusal to allow the adoption or, worse, create grounds to overturn an adoption.