Our Blog

Adult Adoptions Q & A with Attorney Rebecca Levin


We receive a lot of questions at Jerner Law Group, P.C. about adult adoptions. Many people don’t know that adult adoptions are permitted in Pennsylvania. Attorney Rebecca Levin answers some common questions our firm has received.

Who typically files for adult adoptions?

Foster parents or stepparents who raised a child but were never able to adopt when the child was under age 18 or people who have established a family relationship with one another and they want to secure legal rights with respect to one another.

Can one person adopt an adult or does it have to be two people jointly?

One person could adopt alone, although if that person is married, the spouse of the person adopting would need to consent.

What constitutes “an adult” for an adult adoption?

If the adoptee (the legal term for the person who is being adopted) is at least 18 years old, it is considered an adult adoption, even if the adoptee is still in high school.

Do the adoptee's current legal parents need to be notified about the adult adoption?

No. In an adult adoption, unlike the adoption of a child, there is no formal termination of parental rights that requires notice to the adoptee's parents. Therefore, the adoptee's current legal parents do not need to be notified or served with the adult adoption court papers.

What rights would I get to my new adoptive parents as an adult adoptee?

An adult adoption secures all the legal rights and responsibilities between parent and the adult adoptee the same as if you were a biological child of the person who is adopting. An adoption means that there is a “next of kin” relationship status being established, which could mean rights to inherit as a family member. This also means that the tax rate for inheritances would change from 15% for a legal stranger to 4.5% between parent and child. Additionally, you would have the right to make medical decisions for each other as the legal next of kin. This is often very important for adult children who need to make decisions for and care for an elderly parent.

Do I lose any rights from the birth parents if I am adopted by someone else?

While there is no formal termination process, the birth records are amended so a new parental relationship is established between the adoptive parent and the adult adoptee that severs the prior relationship and this will implicate the legal rights that flow from parent to child and vice versa.

Who files the papers for an adult adoption, the person adopting or the adult who is being adopted?

The adoptive parent is the petitioner and files the court papers, but the adult being adopted has to consent to the adoption by signing a consent form that is then attached to the petition.

Can I change my name through an adult adoption?

Yes. And adult adoptee can change his or her name through the adoption, but additional requirements must be met such as criminal record background checks.

Can I change my birth certificate after the adoption to include the names of my new parents?

Yes. The adoption court decree will permit a change of a birth record.

How long does it take to complete an adult adoption?

That depends on the county where it will be filed. Sometimes it may take as long as six months or as short as three months.

Where can I start the process for an adult adoption in Pennsylvania?

You can start by contacting Jerner Law Group, P.C. for a consultation appointment. We look forward to helping you!