Adoption is not just about young children.
More and more adults in this province and their non-biological parents are making the move to legally become an official family these days — whether its adoption by a foster family, relative or step-parent.
And while the thought of court proceedings can be overwhelming for the average person, it’s not as difficult as you might think, Ryan MacFarlane said.
As a Christmas gift to his 30-year-old girlfriend, Jessica King, MacFarlane recently went through the process of arranging to have her adopted by her foster family — getting it approved by her foster family, collecting the proper legal documents and filing them at court.
The heartwarming story was published in The Telegram on Tuesday and attracted plenty of attention, to the delight of MacFarlane and King, who had hoped their experience would inspire other families thinking about taking steps to adopt adult children.
“In Newfoundland and Labrador, adult adoption is a surprisingly simple process,” MacFarlane said.
“(It) is among the less complicated court proceedings, as everyone involved is of the age of majority and can freely grant their consent. Once all the necessary documentation is assembled and submitted to the court, a judge makes a ruling, and a family is made whole under the law.”
According to Section 50 of the province’s Adoption Act, in order to adopt an adult, proof of Canadian citizenship and residency are required, along with formal consent from the adopting parent(s), the adoptee and the court.
One or two individuals can consent to adopt an adult, and there are no fees involved in petitioning the court for adult adoption, MacFarlane added.
The required forms, which can be found on the Newfoundland and Labrador Family Court website, must be completed and filed.
“Where the court is satisfied with the reason for the adoption the court may grant an adoption order,” the Act states.
It goes on to say, “An adult adopted under this Part has the same rights, benefits and status as a child adopted under this Act.”
Here’s a summary provided by MacFarlane of the adult adoption process:
Consent of the adopting parent(s)
The adopting parent(s) begin by downloading, printing and completing an Application for Adoption Order, a formal petition to the court to adopt an adult, as well as an Affidavit of Applicant, which constitutes a sworn statement to the court in which the adopting parent(s) affirm their consent to adopt an adult, their understanding of adult adoption and its legal ramifications, as well as their reasons for petitioning the court for adult adoption.
As a sworn statement, the signature(s) on the Affidavit of Applicant must be witnessed by a representative of the court (such as a justice of the peace), who will seal the document with an official stamp.
Each individual named on the Application for Adoption Order and Affidavit of Applicant must include a copy of their birth certificate with their application.
Consent of the Adoptee
After downloading, printing and completing the Consent of Adult form, the adoptee also completes a sworn statement.
Its signature must also be witnessed by a representative of the court and sealed with an official stamp.
The completed form must be presented to the court together with the adoptee's original birth certificate (not a copy).
Consent of the court
Once these forms are submitted to the court, they will be reviewed by a judge. If satisfied with the application, the judge will notify the involved parties and issue an Adoption Order to the Department of Vital Statistics. At this time, the Department of Vital Statistics updates its records to reflect the adoptee's new legal parents. From here, the adoptee is free to legally change their family name, and to update their driver's licence, passport and other legal documents.
If the judge is not satisfied with the application, and requires more information about the case, he or she will issue a Notice of Hearing to the adopting parent(s) and the adoptee. A court date will be set, and all involved parties will appear before the judge to discuss their case. If it is not possible to attend court, the judge may conduct the hearing over the phone.
There is another circumstance in which a Notice of Hearing may be issued.
If desired, the judge’s favourable ruling can be performed ceremoniously. The adoptee and their adoptive parents appear in court together with any spectators (such as friends, family members, etc.), to witness the judge rule in favour of the adoption. If an official ceremony is desired, it may be requested of the court at the time of filing.
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