Define: Adoption

Quick Summary of Adoption

A court procedure by which an adult becomes the legal parent of someone who is not his or her biological child. Adoption creates a parent-child relationship recognized for all legal purposes — including child support obligations, inheritance rights and custody.

What is the dictionary definition of Adoption?
Dictionary Definition of Adoption
  1. The act of adopting, or state of being adopted; the voluntary acceptance of a child by other parents to be the same as one’s own child.
  2. Admission to a more intimate relationship; reception; as, the adoption of persons into hospitals or monasteries, or of one society into another.
  3. The choosing and making that to be one’s own, which originally was not so; acceptance; as, the adoption of opinions.
  4. Transfer from an old system to another (usually better) system.

n. the taking of a child into one’s family, creating a parent-child relationship, and giving him or her all the rights and privileges of one’s own child, including the right to inherit as if the child were the adopter’s natural child. The adoption procedure varies depending on whether the child comes through an agency that handles adoptions or comes from a stranger or a relative, and on the age of the child and the adoptive parent or parents. The hopeful adoptive parent must file a petition, which may be handled by the adoption agency. Natural parents must either give binding written permission for the adoption or have abandoned the child for a lengthy period of time. An investigation will be made by a county office (probation or family services) as to the future parents’ suitability to adoption, their relationship status, their home situation, and their health, as well as the best interests of the child. If the child is old enough to understand the procedure, he or she may have a say in the adoption. Finally, there is a hearing before a local court judge (called “surrogate” in some states) and an adoption order made. In many states, a new birth certificate can be issued with the adoptive parents listed as the parents. If there is an adoption of an adult, the adopting adult usually must be several years older, based on state law. In recent years, there has been much controversy over adoption by single parents, including gays and lesbians, with a tendency towards allowing such adoptions, provided all other criteria beneficial to the child are met.

Full Definition Of Adoption

Adoption is a legal process through which a person or a couple becomes the legal parent(s) of a child who is not biologically related to them. It involves the termination of the parental rights of the child’s biological parents and the establishment of new legal parent-child relationships.

The process of adoption varies depending on the jurisdiction but generally involves several steps. These may include a home study, where a social worker assesses the prospective adoptive parents’ suitability to adopt, background checks, and interviews. The adoptive parents may also need to attend adoption education and training sessions.

Once the adoption is finalised, the adoptive parents assume all legal rights and responsibilities for the child, including providing for their care, support, and education. The child also gains the same legal rights and privileges as if they were born to adoptive parents.

Adoption laws aim to ensure the best interests of the child are protected throughout the process. They typically require the consent of the biological parents, unless their parental rights have been terminated due to abandonment, abuse, or neglect. In some cases, the court may also consider the child’s preferences, especially if they are of a certain age or maturity level.

Adoption can be a complex and emotional process, and it is important to seek legal advice and guidance to navigate the legal requirements and ensure compliance with applicable laws and regulations.

Under English law (Adoption Act 1976; Children Act 1989), an adoption order annuls all rights and responsibilities of a child’s original parents and vests them in the adopters.

The child is then deemed to be the legitimate child of the adopters; he or she has the same rights of inheritance as any natural children the adopters may have. Any person under the age of 18 is eligible for adoption, but in practice, most adoptions are of young children. The adoption of female children is subject to the same regulations as for males, with the exception that a single man may not adopt a girl. Otherwise, a married couple domiciled in the UK Domicile — may apply to adopt jointly, and anyone can adopt singly, subject to the following requirements:

At least one adopter is 25 years of age, or at least one adopter is over 21 years of age and related to the adoptee, or one adopter is a parent of the child. This last point deals with the adoption of an illegitimate child by a parent and someone else. Note that adoption by married couples is the only form of joint adoption allowed in English law.

Adoption orders can be granted by most civil courts. Normally, the order will be granted if:

  • The court is satisfied that the adopters are suitable.
  • and the natural parents consent, or their consent can be dispensed with (if, for example, they have abandoned or neglected the child).
  • and the spouse of a sole adopter consents.

On the whole, the court will attempt to treat the needs of the child as the overriding concern. The natural parents cannot `unreasonably’ withhold consent, but the court may consider such factors as, for example, religious preference a `reasonable’ case for allowing the natural parents to withhold consent.

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This site contains general legal information but does not constitute professional legal advice for your particular situation. Persuing this glossary does not create an attorney-client or legal adviser relationship. If you have specific questions, please consult a qualified attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.

This glossary post was last updated: 25th April 2024.

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