In Pennsylvania, an adult adoption is any adoption of a person who is 18 years or older. There are many reasons for an adult adoption, and the process for completing these adoptions can be just as complex as child adoptions.
Barriers to adult adoption
Adult adoption can raise potential red flags with the government. If the age difference between the prospective parent and child is not large enough, then the adoption may be blocked. There also cannot be any form of a sexual or romantic relationship between the prospective parent and child. Similarly, adoption cannot be used to formalize or legalize a same-sex relationship as an alternative to marriage. Historically, the adoption of adults was used to cement romantic or sexual relationships, often in a coercive way. Current law is designed to prohibit that.
Uses of adult adoption
However, there are some legitimate uses of adult adoption. For example, stepparent adoption can be an emotional gesture to honor the role that a stepparent played in the life of a child who has since grown up. This procedure can also provide simplification of inheritance rights, hospital visitation rights, health insurance coverage, and other legal privileges.
Rare examples include using adoption to provide better care for an adult who is not mentally or physically capable and requires ongoing medical or financial support. These formal and informal motivations are within the law. Adoption takes place at the state level and not the federal level, so the paperwork and legal filings will go through state-level departments and courts.
Adult adoption is a powerful tool for many purposes, and it is generally legal in Pennsylvania.