Adult Adoption

Adoptions don’t always have to involve children. Many people have asked, “Can you adopt an adult?” The answer is yes.

An adult adoption, which is allowed in the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia (in certain circumstances), occurs when one adult adopts another. Regardless, you will need an attorney and Jennifer or Catelyn will help you complete your adoption and answer all your questions if you’ve ever wondered, “Can you adopt someone over 18?”

Contact us now to adopt an adult that you love and read the guide below for general information about how to adopt an adult in DC, MD and VA:

When Would You Want to Adopt an Adult?

Similar to children, adults can also benefit from being adopted in a number of ways. Situations where you may consider adopting an adult in MD, VA or DC might include:

  • If you fostered or cared for a child and then they turned 18, but you still wish to legally adopt them.
  • If you’re a stepparent and your stepchild’s biological parent never terminated their rights, but your stepchild wants you to adopt them now that they’re an adult.
  • If you’re part of a same-sex couple and previously weren’t able to both be considered your child’s legal parents.
  • If you’re an adoptee who has reunited with your birth family and wish to be adopted by them.
  • Anyone who has developed a close parent-child relationship and wants it to be formally and legally recognized.

Although the emotional bonds that you share with the person you’re considering adopting may feel permanent, an adult adoption can be an important way to provide legal permanence, formality and protection to your relationship. Some of the benefits of an adult adoption include:

  • The adopted person would be able to inherit from you.
  • He/she/they would be able to benefit from your Social Security or insurance.
  • You would legally be able to visit each other in the hospital, make important medical decisions and receive medical records, which can be important in the event of an emergency.
  • He/she/they can change their last name to yours.
  • The adoption is an important symbol of permanence for the entire family.

Adoption isn’t just for children. You can learn how to adopt an adult that you love, and he/she/they receive emotional and practical benefits in the process.

The Laws of Adopting an Adult in Maryland, DC and Virginia

The laws of adult adoption and the process of adopting an adult vary by state. We are here to guide you through the individual adult adoption laws of your state, so contact us today with any questions you may have about how to adopt an adult in your specific state and situation. In the meantime, the following will give you a basic overview of how to adopt an adult in MD, DC and VA:


An adult adoption in Maryland proceeds under the same rules and statutes as an independent/private adoption. Thus, the adult adoptee’s legal parents must be notified of the adoption and given an opportunity to object and show cause why their adult child should not be adopted by another adult. If they consent or fail to object, the adoption will proceed uncontested. If they object to the adoption, a hearing is held and the outcome is specific to each case.

District of Columbia

A separate statute governs adult adoption in Washington, D.C. A notice to the adult adoptee's legal parents is not required, and an investigation is not performed. The outcome is specific to the facts of the case, and the court must be satisfied that the adoption is not being performed for any illegal or fraudulent purpose.


For Virginia adult adoptions, there is a specific statute which requires that the adoptee must:  

  • Be a step-child,
  • Be related to the adopter,
  • Have resided with the adult adopter for three months before turning 18, OR
  • Be at least 15 years younger than the adopter, have known the adopter for at least one year, and show "good cause" for the adoption to be granted.

Parental notice or consent is not required in Virginia.

For all adult adoptions, the adult adoptee's original birth certificate must be provided to the court. A new birth certificate will be created with the adoptive parents’ names. When an adult is adopted, the legal relationship with one's biological or legal parents and with any biological or legal relatives is severed, and a new legal relationship is formed with the adoptive parents and the adoptive parents’ biological and legal relatives. A hearing is not routinely required to adopt an adult in Virginia.

The adult adoption process includes an in-person consultation with an attorney, preparation of a Petition for Adoption and any accompanying legal documents based on the facts of the case, and attendance atleast one hearing in Maryland and the District of Columbia.

How to Adopt an Adult in Maryland, DC and Virginia: Start Here

The first step to building your family through adoption is to sit down with an experienced attorney who can explain all of your options and answer your questions, especially if you’ve ever asked, “Can I adopt an adult?” Contact us now, and we’ll walk you through the process of adopting an adult whom you love within your state.


Where do we begin?

The first step to building your family through adoption or assisted reproduction technology is to sit down with an experienced attorney who can explain all of your options and answer your questions.   

“I believe in working with each of my clients—in support of their family dynamic—to make the dreams of parenthood a reality. Whether you are single or married; or gay; a step-parent, a surrogate or intended parent or a child of adoption, it is my mission to serve as your advocate. With a dedication to the ethical and sensitive nature of each situation, I will help you understand the laws within Maryland or Washington, DC for adoption or surrogacy, and pledge to be your partner throughout the journey.” - Jennifer Fairfax