The adoption of a child is, for many families, one of the most exciting and important times in their lives. However, there is often a significant legal process that is associated with adoption, conferring a variety of different rights and obligations on the adoptive parent and establishing the relationship with their new child. The exact nature of this process can vary significantly, depending on the state in which the adoption is pursued and, in particular, which type of adoption is involved.

There are several different forms of adoption, and the rules required of each type can vary considerably, from minor variations to major changes. Many people think of one type of adoption, typically a family or single parent contacting an adoption agency and seeking to provide a new home for a child. However, there are a significant number of other forms of adoption. The following is a brief explanation of some of these alternative forms of legal adoption currently available.

  • Ÿ  Step-Parent Adoption: this is generally a fairly straightforward form of adoption. As long as both birth parents consent to the adoption, a step-parent will typically be able to complete adoption of a step-child quite easily. However, if one of the parents does not consent, the process can be considerably more difficult, and may require the assistance of a qualified adoption attorney.
  • Ÿ  Same-Sex Couple Adoption: while the legal landscape around same-sex adoption continues to shift, at the moment it is generally more difficult for same-sex couples to adopt a child than opposite-sex couples. However, the laws vary significantly between states, and in some areas, adoption for same-sex couples is no different than for anyone else.
  • Ÿ  Relative Adoption: adoption by a relative typically occurs in situations where one or both of a child’s parents have died or otherwise been rendered incapable of giving them the care they need. This form of adoption is often one of the easiest to be completed.
  • Ÿ  Adult Adoption: while rare, adult adoption is provided for in almost every state. Typically, this type of adoption is conducted for inheritance purposes, and most states have considerable restrictions on who is eligible for adult adoption.