It’s Never Too Late

When most of us think about adoption, the image of a child with an eager adoptive parent or couple comes to mind. The understanding is that this new parent will take the child in and raise him as his own, creating a bond between new family members. What many would be surprised to learn, however, is that adoption is not only for children. Under Massachusetts law, “[a] person of full age may petition the probate court in the county where he resides for leave to adopt as his child another person younger than himself, unless such other person is his or her wife or husband, or brother, sister, uncle or aunt.” G.L.c. 210, § 1. Adoptive parents and adult adoptees may decide to pursue adoption for any number of reasons: to formalize an existing relationship, to gain a life-long familial connection, to streamline inheritance, or to provide the adoptee’s own children with an extended family network. The legal process to realize these intimate and important desires can be relatively simple. Each county in Massachusetts has slightly different requirements for processing an adult adoption. Prospective adoptive parents, or the attorneys representing them, would thus be wise to contact the Probate and Family Court in the appropriate county to ascertain the court-specific procedure. Once the required paperwork and supporting documentation is submitted to the Court, a hearing can be scheduled to finalize the adoption. At this hearing, the adoptive parent(s) and the adult adoptee will appear before the Judge. If the Judge is satisfied that the adoption is proper, he or she will sign a Decree of Adoption. From that point forward, the adult adoptee will be the legal child of the adoptive parent. The adult adoptee may opt to change his or her birth certificate to reflect the adoption. No matter what the adoptee chooses, he will leave with new parents, proving that it is never too late to become family.

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