Recently while researching an adoption trivia question for our Facebook page, I was brought back to my high school days, sitting in Mrs. Karawicki’s Latin class. I found a Wikipedia page that discussed the beginning of modern-day adoption and how its roots can be traced back as far as the ancient Romans. In fact, many of the Roman emperors were adopted as adults to ensure the current emperor had a son to pass his throne to.
While many adoption stories today revolve around infant or child adoptions, adult adoption is still prevalent today. In June we wrote a short blog post on Jillian Titus, who at age 29, was adopted by Sandra and Ross Titus. Jillian met Ross and Sandra while working Nintendo, and according to a CNN article, the two instantly bonded over their love for their Boston Terriers.
Chuck Johnson, who is the President and CEO of the National Council For Adoption, said in the article that he believes the number of adult adoptions in the United States has risen in recent years. Because many states seal their adoption records there are no official statistics on adult adoption, however Johnson said that he has heard of more adult adoptions in recent years than in the past. According to Johnson, the most common situation for adult adoptions is “former foster children – now adults – who are being adopted by their long-time foster parents.”
The article said that Jillian’s biological mother and father are still alive, however she now refers to them as her “ex-mom” and “ex-dad.” According to the article, Jillian had a rough upbringing with a mother who abused cocaine and a father “who once fired a gun at her while he was drunk.”
Ross and Sandra have no children of their own and according to the article a fast friendship developed soon after they met Jillian. “From day one, I was so drawn to Jillian. I noticed her laugh. I thought, ‘Look at that cute little monkey,’” Sandra said in the article. “Not having any kids, it didn’t occur to me that it might be maternal stuff I was feeling.” One day Jillian jokingly asked Sandra, “Why don’t you just adopt me?” which led them on their adoption journey, which was finalized in November 2010.
While each state has specific laws regarding adult adoption, the article said that most state regulations basically say, “Adults may be adopted with consent of the person to be adopted.” Most states do not require a specific age-gap between the adoptive parents and the adoptee, and it is rare when birth parents are required to consent to the adoption.
Unfortunately not everyone respects the genuine intent of adult adoption. Such is the case with millionaire John Goodman, who owns several Polo Clubs. In October of 2011, Goodman adopted his girlfriend, 42-year-old Heather Laruso Hutchins, in a move that some are describing as a way to hide some of his assets. Goodman has two biological children, and according to the article, has set up a trust fund of over $200 million for his children. Hutchins is now legally entitled to one third of this trust fund because she is over 35-years-old.
According to an article on NewJerseyNewsRoom.com, “Goodman was allegedly involved in a drunk driving accident that killed-23-year-old Scott Wilson.” According to the police reports, Goodman went through a stop sign crashing into Wilson. Goodman will face a criminal trial and Wilson’s parents are also suing Goodman for wrongful death.
Adoption professionals believe that Goodman’s adoption of his girlfriend violates the intention of the adult adoption statute. The attorney interviewed in the article states, “Unless you intend to create the parent-child relationship, you are violating the law.”
Much like infant or child adoption, adult adoption should not be something that is done without a lot of education and support. It’s intent is to create the parent-child relationship even in adulthood. It can be a beautiful option for many adults who do not or did not have a forever family.