Overview of Adult Adoption in BCNov 9 2023
Adoption is a significant legal process, most commonly associated with children finding their forever homes or recognizing the important role a step-parent is performing in their lives. However, there is no age limit on adoption in British Columbia. In this blog post, we outline in the ins and outs of adult adoption.
Who Can Adopt?
An applicant to adopt must be at least 19 years of age and a resident of BC for at least 6 months. Any one adult or two adults jointly may apply to adopt another person. It is not the adult seeking to be adopted who makes the application.
For an adult adoption, the applicant must demonstrate that when the adult was a child, they lived with the applicant as a member of their family and was “maintained” (generally financially and emotionally supported) by the applicant until the adult became self-supporting or an adult.
Who needs to consent?
The court may make the adoption order without the consent of anyone except the person to adopted (and of course the applicant). This is distinct from the adoption of a child.
The consent must be freely given and without any form of coercion.
What’s the Process?
The applicant files a petition in court including an affidavit that sets out the history of their relationship with the person(s) the applicant seeks to adopt and consents from the persons to be adopted. Once filed by the court, the petition must be personally served on the birth parents of the person to be adopted (and/or potentially other legal guardians if applicable) and on the spouse of the applicant.
What impact does adoption have?
As with child adoption, adult adoption grants the adopted person the same legal rights and responsibilities as if they were a biological child of the applicant. This includes inheritance rights and the right to use the applicant parent’s surname.
Adoption can also have a profound emotional and psychological impact, including a stronger sense of belonging and commitment between the individuals involved.
However, adoption also legally ends the relationship with one or both birth parents also impacting inheritance rights. Adoption should not be considered lightly. Once an order for adoption is granted, it is irrevocable and cannot later be reversed if either the applicant or the adult person adopted changes their mind.