Adult Adoption

I read a review today of a TV reality show I will NOT be watching – Adults Adopting Adults. Yet I thought it would be an interesting topic to explore in today’s blog. I’ve come across the concept before within an all things adoption group I belong to as some adoptees in reunion with their biological family, wish to be adopted as adults by their original family. And in doing a quick google search – it really is a thing – and there are lots of law firms willing to help anyone through the process for a fee.

Beyond the adoptee in reunion with their original family, why would anyone else want to do this ? Certainly in that reality show, there are some sexually nefarious reasons and so, I really have no interest in watching it. By the way, the question has come up regarding immigration and no, adopting a foreign national does not automatically grant them citizenship.

Adult Adoption is very common in Japan and it actually goes back to business inheritance laws that no longer apply but tradition suggests they still hold a lot of sway as I learned in an article for The Economist. The country’s declining birth rate has limited the likelihood of a male heir for many business families. Many legal adoptions are coupled with a form of arranged marriage (known as omiai) to one of the family’s daughters—but the son-in-law (or mukoyoshi) then changes his name to hers. Today a host of matchmaking companies and marriage consultants recruit voluntary adoptees for Japanese companies.

To be selected as a mukoyoshi is to be awarded a high executive honor. This prompts fierce competition among managers, ensuring that the business has access to as good a talent pool as non-family companies. In fact, researchers have found that adopted heirs’ firms outperform blood heirs’ firms—although the prospect of being overlooked for an outsider can serve as motivation for sons to knuckle down, too.

In the US, the primary drivers of adult adoptions are where a step-parent wishes to secure inheritance rights for their step-child and in situations of disability requiring long-term care. I have a friend with an autistic daughter approaching legal age who has been informed to maintain support requirements, she will have to adopt her own daughter. I can also imagine this happening where a parent needs the legal guardianship of their child (though I do believe having flirted with that issue regarding my dad, adoption isn’t necessary to secure that support).

In June 2015, the Supreme Court ruled in the landmark civil rights case of Obergefell v. Hodges that the fundamental right of same-sex couples to marry on the same terms and conditions as opposite-sex couples, with all the accompanying rights and responsibilities, is guaranteed by both the Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Before the advent of federally legalized same-sex marriage, some couples utilized adult adoption in order to pass on inheritance rights and medical decision making to their partners.

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