Same-sex adult adoption involves adult adoption—the adoption of one adult by another—of a partner in order to benefit in some way, such as to create family relationships, to ensure inheritance rights, and to keep collateral relatives from contesting the estate plan of the adopted adult. It was most prevalent from the 1970s and 1980s to the early 2000s.

Adult adoption was originally used as a means of “establishing social relationships and for inheritance reasons”. Since the early 1980s, the LGBTQ community has used a different approach in order to gain benefits from their partners, as a result of same-sex couples not being able to legally marry their partners. Adult adoption was relatively rare in the 19th century but continued to become more popular among same-sex couples who wished to have inheritance rights.


In the United States

In the 1980s, the right to adopt in the USA existed only when provided by the statute and has never been recognized as a natural right at common law. In 1851, Massachusetts became the first state to enact an adoption statute, only with the requirement of supervision and approval from the judicial system. This 1851 act allowed the adoption of “children” without defining that term, but it was intended that only minors could be adopted. This was clarified when the law was amended within two decades to allow the adoption of an adult with their consent. In 1853, Vermont became the first state to authorize adult adoption. In 1952, only thirty-four jurisdictions allowed adult adoption and this increased to thirty-seven by 1958.

During the late 1960s and early 1970s, those states that approved adult adoption simplified procedures for their accomplishments, such as (1) “elimination of provisions for investigation of the home”; (2) “elimination of the requirement that the adoptee must have lived in the home of the adopter for a specified length of time; (3) “changing of the provisions for confidentiality”.

State adoption legislation became more prevalent and started to appear more frequently after the 1860s, but it became more accepted and practiced during the twentieth century. By 1984, all American authorities allowed the adoption of minors, and most authorized adult adoption In 2004, Massachusetts became the first US state to legalize same-sex marriage. Adult adoption was relatively rare in the 19th century, but by the middle of the 20th century, most states allowed it, with one of the earliest cases being Collamore v. Learned in 1898. Although, same-sex adult adoption could be seen as a restriction when adopting an adult.

The adopter and adoptee had to write an agreement where it stated that both parties agreed to “assume toward each other the legal relationship of parent and child and to have all of the rights and be subject to all of the duties and responsibilities of that relationship”.The adult adoptee’s parents weren’t required to consent to the relationship.


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