When you think of adoption, you probably think of adult parents welcoming a minor child, perhaps an infant, into their family. Nevertheless, Wisconsin law imposes no age limits when it comes to who is eligible for adoption by someone else.
Though somewhat unusual, adult adoption can and does take place in Wisconsin. Often, though not always, the process is easier than the adoption of a child. There is no need for social worker involvement, parental rights’ termination or home study completion because it is essentially an agreement between two consenting adults.
The Coalition of Children, Youth and Families, in partnership with the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families, cites several reasons for adult adoption. Among the most common are securing inheritance rights and formalizing existing relationships.
Estate documents like trusts may not mention beneficiaries by name. Rather they may refer only to “relatives” or “children” of the trust grantor. Adult adoption allows the parent to ensure that the adoptee inherits according to the grantor’s wishes.
It is not always a biological parent who has the strongest relationship with a child. Often a foster parent, stepparent or unmarried partner of one of the biological parents has just as much, or more, to do with raising the child. Adult adoption is a way to formalize the relationship with an adult child and a caregiver such as these.
Wisconsin law prevents an unmarried partner to adopt the children of someone who is not his or her spouse, and a foster parent or stepparent may have difficulty persuading the biological parent(s) to consent to terminate parental rights. However, once the children become adults, such impediments no longer exist, and the adoption can move forward.
The information in this article is not intended as legal advice but provided for educational purposes only.