Monday, August 23, 2010

Ethics of Adult Adoption

When the adoptions social worker came by for us to sign the paper work, we ended up talking briefly about adult adoptions. I told her that everyone I met either thought it was wonderful or were completely confused as to why anyone would do it. Now she was getting ready to go, so I didn't push it, but she said that some people were really opposed to adult adoptions. She had a look on her face that suggested those people would be opposed to the adoption we are doing.

I didn't ask her to explain why, and I am embarrassed that I cannot come up with the argument. I understand and support arguments that against private adoption and social services (all of them) that don't support families in difficulties. I understand the argument child adoptions should be (mostly) abandoned in favor of guardianship arrangements.

I am having trouble coming up with a specific argument against adult adoption, that isn't based on an argument against child adoption. Well, at least one that applies in this case. Adult adoption has sometimes been used to create a legal relationship between adults who do not have a child/parent relationship. I suppose the most obvious case is when one member of a same-sex couple adopts the other. My state however requires that you demonstrate a previously existing parent/child relationship. The first example of the kind of evidence they are looking for is that the adoptee was your foster child for at least one year.

So, can anyone help me out here?

I would really like a citation to a carefully made argument, although just having someone clarifying the issues would be great.

I'm supposed to be good at understanding ethical issues. There is something I am missing here though, and I hate that.


  1. Off the top of my head I would say that it creates an unnatural relationship. Everyone can understand children needing parents to raise them to adulthood, but for one adult to adopt another, on the surface does sound, well, interesting. Of course the issue that you raised of a same sex couple creates an issue for many religious folks.

    I fully support what you are doing of course!

  2. I saw this article a long time ago but after reading your recent posts about adult adoptions decided I had to let you know about it.

    I think the biggest argument against adult adoptions is that most people think (incorrectly) that an 18 year old doesn't need a parent. And if you're open to adoption, why not adopt a younger child. To me, a child needs a parent weither they are 2 or 32.

  3. Wow. I'm stumped. I even did a bit of googling. The only possible things I came up with are:

    a) severing parental rights to the bio family means legally ending relationships between siblings as well. This I guess could be an issue in terms of end of life decisions for the siblings or cause hard feelings within the bio fam, assuming the person had a decent relationship with bio fam members, in which case, it is unlikely that they would care about the adoption because they would love the person and want their happiness, right?

    b) some people are anti-adoption period, and see it as a last resort to make sure someone commits legally and financially to a kid until age 18 when they magically can care for themselves and need no support of any type. Therefore adult adoption would be pointless to them?

    These are far-reaching and to be honest, rather absurd, but that's all I can come up with. There are many benefits to it- insurance, a sense of closure, a legal tie to support the emotional ones, etc. Sounds like your worker just had a bug up her rump to me. Maybe she didn't like the paperwork or maybe she fears her kids will dump her for new parents one day lol.

  4. I can't really help you with the whole arguement but I can share that when our eldest foster daughter, who came to us at 17 and aged out at 23 last year, moved to Vegas with her fiance from New England it was US she called throughout their trip cross-country (not her bio fam), And it is US she calls her Moms plural :-). I can remember with great guilt explaining through her sobs and tears that adoption wasn't her DFS goal - independence was, and we werent't going to be adopting her but she could always think of us as family. What a cheap imitation of family. It was, and still is, just totally awful. She remains unanchored to the world. So given the chance - how could you NOT adopt your kid, not matter what their age?

  5. SO sorry it took so long to get these published. Apparently I did not have it set to REMIND me. Ugg.

    Anyway, thanks for the thoughts.

    I know the worker we are dealing with has no problems with the adoption, or with adult adoptions. I can't quite remember the context, but I know she is pleased to be part of this.


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