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Has anyone adopted an adult?

Posted by on Dec. 18, 2012 at 1:40 AM
  • 8 Replies

My husband and I recently took in a wonderful young woman, L, who turned 18 a few weeks ago. She has been through years of abuse by her step father, and a mother who was unwilling to do anything about it for a variety of reasons.

The abuse has left lasting physical damage, and when a family L was staying with insisted she go to the hospital, the ER staff knew that they were seeing the remnants of sexual abuse. L finally told her story and the outcome has not been easy. Her step father is being held by immigration during the investigation, the social worker assigned to the case threatened to terminate her mother's parental rights for endangering the other children in the household. The mother is illegal, doesn't speak the language and doesn't have a job. Faced with losing her children, she ran with them, leaving L behind. L's family has tried to convince her to go be with her mother, to work and help financially and with the siblings, but L wants her life to be different. She wants to be a nurse and help people, to be able to make a living and be self sufficient. She knows she needs therapy to deal with what happened to her, and her family cannot help her with that. Most of all, she wants to create a successful life where she can help her siblings.

We are contemplating adopting her, which would show our commitment to her and her future, as well as offer her safety and stability. We have two biological children ages 5 and 10. They love L like a sister and would like her to be a part of our family forever.

Has anyone adopted an older child or an adult? What are some challenges we should be aware of, both from the adoption process standpoint, and the family adjustment angle?



by on Dec. 18, 2012 at 1:40 AM
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Replies (1-8):
MamaEngineer
by on Dec. 18, 2012 at 2:46 AM
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With L being 18, it is my understanding a lawyer can write up a document to make L a legal member of the family. You will need to contact an adoption lawyer in your state. Does L have US citizenship or legal alien status? If not, she could be deported herself.

As for incorporating a teen into your family, it is for your family to decide. Do the younger children accept an older sibling who is a new family member? Are all members, including L, in agreement with the adoption? Realize L will need to continue to work through her issues of past abuse, some of her reactions may not be pleasant.
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aprilz1225
by on Dec. 18, 2012 at 8:12 AM
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 Such a touching story, blessing to you all.

pristine729
by on Dec. 18, 2012 at 8:16 AM
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That's amazing! My cousin was adopted by her step mom when she became an adult. They did it to make it official, but also so in the event of an emergency, her step mom could be there and make decisions.
Good luck, should be a fairly easy process
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SarahSuzyQ
by on Dec. 18, 2012 at 10:11 AM
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Is or was L in the foster care system during all of this? Did she officially "age out" of the system, or was she never actually in foster care and assigned a CPS worker?

The reason I ask is that in many states, kids can choose to sign themselves back into care until the age of 21. The benefits to this include ongoing financial support, possible financial aid with college, and health insurance coverage. It just may be something L might want to consider prior to adoption. You could be her foster family during this time, and then just adopt her once she's no longer in care... Might be worth considering, if it is an option that is open to her.

I found this article that seems to quickly explain the ins and outs of adult adoption: http://adoption.about.com/od/typesofadoption/a/adultadopt.htm It also has a link to handling adult adoption if the adult is not a citizen, which is a little unclear from your post.

I'm so glad that you and L have found one another. She will definitely need advocates and loving support, and it sounds like your family is prepared to give that.

You may want to consider joining the Foster/Adoptive Parenting group here on CM. There are some folks there who have adopted or guardianshipped older teens, and they will have great advice for you as well as what you'll find here in this group.

jandjsmom3
by on Dec. 19, 2012 at 9:05 AM

Thank you for the link SarahSuzyQ!

L was not in foster care, although I was told yesterday she could apply for our state's Foster Adult Transition program, and potentially have the requirement of previously being in the foster care system waived. 

I'm sorry it wasn't clear in my op but she is a US citizen which reduces the complications significantly!

SarahSuzyQ
by on Dec. 19, 2012 at 3:34 PM
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If she may be eligible for the transition program, it might be good to talk with her about what that would entail... The time line, the type of support offered, etc.

Obviously you don't want to communicate that you're backing off on your commitment. But at the same time, suddenly adding a young adult to the family is potentially an expense thing, and the ability to access support through the state could be really helpful. They may cover the cost of counseling, college classes, etc. Perhaps as she is considering what it looks like to take charge of her own life (with your familial support), this may be a good option.

Either way, it seems like you are all committed to one another. I wish you the best with it all.
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eoewan
by on Dec. 20, 2012 at 12:08 AM
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My dh adopted my ds when ds turned 18. We had tried when ds was younger but his birth father (ex-husband) would not sign papers for it. There were no challenges for us as dh was "dad" since ds was 4 yrs old. At 18 my ds signed the adoption papers himself. Now ds is 30 and has 4 children of his own.

cheers, donna

meam4444
by on Dec. 20, 2012 at 11:56 AM
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I know nothing about adult adoptions, but wishing you and your family the best!

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