Family Law Blog

Adult Adoption: How it Works, When it Happens, and Why

Adult Adoption: How it Works, When it Happens, and Why

More and more, “family” is being recognized as a fluid concept: One with multiple meanings and arrangements. Indeed, the “nuclear” approach is not always what is best for everyone involved. BC family law demonstrates its understanding of this through its approach to adoption – especially in the category of adult adoption. 

Previously we touched on the essential information surrounding adult adoption, and how exactly to go about this process. This blog continues by providing an overview of how adult adoption works, why adult adoption happens, and circumstances when adult adoption occurs.

How Adult Adoption Works

We recommend you check out our dedicated blog post on adult adoption laws in BC. Nevertheless, let’s go over how adult adoption works at large, as stated in Section 44 of BC’s Adoption Act

First, an adult adoption order has the same effect as those made with respect to a child. One adult or two adults jointly may apply to the court to adopt another adult. 

The court may make the adoption order without the consent of anyone except the person being adopted, so long as the court finds:

  • The person, as a child, lived with the applicant as a member of the family until the person became self-supporting (moved out on their own) or reached the age of majority
  • The reason for the adoption to be acceptable

It’s highly recommended to speak to an expert before proceeding with an adoption. If you need advice in this area, the dedicated team at Westside Family Law are ready to assist. Contact Us to find out more.

Reasons to Adopt an Adult 

  1. Formalize an existing parental relationship 
  2. Qualify For Dependent Benefits 
  3. Become a Primary Beneficiary
  4. Ensure Ongoing care

Formalize an existing parental relationship 

There is clear sentimental value in having the eyes of the law validate a parent-child relationship. In addition, the process of adult adoption formalizes the parental relationship legally, so all legal documents listing guardians (birth certificates, for example) or dependents will be reissued.  Which means the adult child can…

Qualify For Dependent Benefits

One of the most common, tangible reasons for an adult adoption is to enable the adoptive child to qualify for dependent benefits, such as healthcare coverage, insurance policies, and so on.

Become a Primary Beneficiary 

The process of adult adoption also provides a clear pathway towards inheriting the parent’s estate (property and assets) when they pass. While a well-executed Will can allocate items to the adult child without legal recognition, any discrepancies or errors are more likely to become a major issue in the courts depending on other parties involved. 

Ensure Ongoing Care

For a person of diminished capacity, a recognized parent-child relationship makes it easier to receive support, as the other party is made legally responsible for their decisions and arrangements for proper care. Whether the parent is ageing and needs someone to act as a power of attorney, or the adult child’s health is compromised and requires additional help, the adult adoption can smooth out added difficulties in an already difficult time.

Adult Adoption: Common Cases

Given the adult child must have lived with the applicant prior to 1) moving out on their own as a teenager, or 2) before reaching the age of consent, there are limited cases in which adult adoption occurs in BC: 

Adult Adoption From a Step Parent: This process can solidify the relationship a child has with a significant parental figure while providing coverage and affirming them as beneficiary.  Since these relationships can be contentious for the other parent in a joint guardianship scenario, a clear benefit is that there is no need for their consent – only the adult child must agree. 

Adult Adoption From Foster Care: If an individual or family has fostered a child and formed a significant bond with them, they may choose to recognize it by legally solidifying the relationship in adulthood. In this way, they become a child’s “forever family” at any age. 

Siblings and Adult Adoption: Often, siblings step up to take care of a younger family member – especially when the parent is busy, incapacitated, or incapable of providing acceptable levels of parental support. Whether blood relatives or not, the family members can choose to affirm this parental dynamic in the eyes of the law. Because this can be a sensitive situation for the natural parental figure, many wait until their consent is no longer necessary.

Here to Help 

If you have questions about adoption at large, or any related to adult adoption specifically, contact us today to speak with a family lawyer. We’ll ensure this meaningful process goes smoothly the whole way through.