Close, committed family relationships can come about in “non-traditional” ways, at times giving rise to the wish to legally recognize a parent/child relationship with a person who is now an adult. When such situations arise, clients ask family lawyers whether adoption is still possible once the child to be adopted has reached the age of majority. Continue reading to learn more.
Three types of adoption in BC: family, non-family, and adult
I recently discussed the process and legal implications of adopting a child in BC. A “child” in BC is defined at law as someone who is under the age of 19. There are two types of adoptions with respect to children: (1) by way of family adoption (a common example is adoption by a stepparent); and, (2) by way of non-family adoption (in other words, where there is no familial connection). https://www.familylaw. ca/services/adoption-lawyer The third type of adoption in BC is adult adoption. Adult adoption can involve a family or non-family connection.
No age limit for person to be adopted in BC
Under BC law, there are no age limitations in respect of the person to be adopted. One or two adults who wish to legally recognize a parent/child relationship can apply to adopt another adult under section 44 of BC’s Adoption Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 5, which reads as follows:
Adoption of adults
1. One adult alone or 2 adults jointly may apply to the court to adopt another adult.
2. The court may make the adoption order without the consent of anyone, except the person to be adopted, as long as the court
(a) is satisfied that that person, as a child, lived with the applicant as a member of the family and was maintained by the applicant until the person became self supporting or became an adult, and
(b) considers the reason for the adoption to be acceptable.
3. An adoption order made with respect to an adult has the same effect as an adoption order made with respect to a child.
Some of the legal requirements for adult adoption in BC
Consent is one of the legal requirements for adult adoption. Because of section 44(2) of the Adoption Act (see above), the only person who must consent to the adoption is the adult to be adopted. BC’s Adoption Act does not require biological parents to consent to an adult adoption. That being said, if the consent of the natural parents have not been obtained, the BC Supreme Court may require notice of the adoption application to be served on birth parents as they are persons whose interests may be affected by the adoption order.
Residency is another legal requirement, and this requirement that can cause difficulties with respect to eligibility for adult adoption. Because of section 44(2)(a) of the Adoption Act, prospective parents can apply to the BC Supreme Court to adopt an adult that they lived with and supported before the child turned 19 years old. In other words, a person over the age of majority is not eligible for adult adoption unless they were living with the prospective parents when they moved out on their own as a teen or when they reached the age of 19. This can disqualify former youth in care from adult adoption if they do not reconnect with foster parents until later in life.
Speak to a BC family lawyer with adult adoption experience
Valerie M. Little has over 30 years of experience as an adoption lawyer in BC and covers all areas of family law including adoption of children and adults. Ms. Little understands how important it can be – for emotional, psychological, and even practical reasons – to have familial relationships recognized in an official manner by way of the adoption process regardless of the age of the adoptee. The office of Valerie M. Little Law Corporation is centrally located in New Westminster and serves the surrounding areas of Burnaby, Maple Ridge, Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, Vancouver, North Vancouver, West Vancouver, Port Moody, Richmond, Surrey, Cloverdale, Delta, Langley, Tri-Cities, and the Lower Mainland. To schedule a consultation with an experienced adoption lawyer, please call Valerie M. Little today at 604-526-3333.