adoption,n.1.Family law. The creation of a parent–child relationship by judicial order
between two parties who usu. are unrelated; the relation of parent and child created by law
between persons who are not in fact parent and child. • This relationship is brought about only
after a determination that the child is an orphan or has been abandoned, or that the parents’
parental rights have been terminated by court order. Adoption creates a par-ent–child relationship
between the adopted child and the adoptive parents with all the rights, privileges, and
responsibilities that attach to that relationship, though there may be agreed exceptions. There is a
distinction between adoption and legitimation, and between adoption and fostering. Adoption usu.
refers to an act between persons unrelated by blood; legitimation refers to an act between persons
related by blood. Universally, a decree of adoption confers legitimate status on the adopted child.
See adopted child under CHILD. Cf. LEGITIMATION(2). [Cases: Adoption 1.C.J.S. Adoption
of Persons §§ 2–4.]
“Although adoption is found in many societies, ancient and modern, primitive and civilized,
and is recognized by the civil law, it was unknown at common law. Accordingly, adoption is
entirely a creature of statute ….” Elias Clark et al., Gratuitous Transfers: Wills, Intestate
Succession, Trusts, Gifts, Future Interests, and Estate and Gift Taxation Cases and Materials
73–74 (4th ed. 1999).
adoption by estoppel. 1. An equitable adoption of a child by one who promises or acts in a
way that precludes the person and his or her estate from denying adopted status to the child. 2. An
equitable decree of adoption treating as done that which ought to have been done. • Such a decree A
is entered when no final decree of adoption has already been obtained, even though the principal
has acted as if an adoption has been achieved. A petitioner must show an agreement of adoption,
relinquishment of parental authority by the child’s biological parents, assumption of parental
responsibility by the foster parents, and a de facto relationship of parent and child over a
substantial period. Such a claim typically occurs when an adoptive parent has died intestate, and
the child tries to be named an heir. In a minority of states, adoption by estoppel may be a basis for
allowing a child to participate in a wrongful-death action. — Also termed equitable adoption;
virtual adoption. See ESTOPPEL(1).3. See de facto adoption. [Cases: Adoption 6. C.J.S.
Adoption of Persons §§ 25–40.]
adult adoption.The adoption of one adult by another. • Many jurisdictions do not allow adult
adoptions. Those that do often impose restrictions, as by requiring consent of the person to be
adopted, but may not look too closely at the purpose for which adoption is sought.
agency adoption.An adoption in which parental rights are terminated and legal custody is
relinquished to an agency that finds and approves the adoptive parents. • An agency adoption can
be either public or private. In all states, adoption agencies must be licensed, and in most they are
nonprofit entities. Parents who voluntarily place a child for adoption most commonly use a private
agency. Cf. private adoption.
black-market adoption. 1. An illegal adoption in which an intermediary (a broker) receives
payment for his or her services. 2. Baby-selling.
closed adoption.An adoption in which the biological parent relinquishes his or her parental
rights and surrenders the child to an unknown person or persons; an adoption in which there is no
disclosure of the identity of the birth parents, adopting parent or parents, or child. • Adoptions by
stepparents, blood relatives, and foster parents are exceptions to the no-disclosure requirement. —
Also termed confidential adoption. Cf. open adoption; cooperative adoption.
cooperative adoption.A process in which the birth parents and adoptive parents negotiate to
reach a voluntary agreement about the degree and type of continuing contact after adoption,
including direct visitation or more limited arrangements such as communication by telephone or
mail, the exchange of either identifying or non-identifying information, and other forms of contact.
Cf. open adoption; closed adoption.
de facto adoption.An adoption that falls short of the statutory requirements in a particular
state. • The adoption agreement may ripen to a de jure adoption when the statutory formalities
have been met or if a court finds that the requirements for adoption by estoppel have been met. —
Also termed adoption by estoppel. [Cases: Adoption 6. C.J.S. Adoption of Persons §§ 25–40.]
de facto stepparent adoption.See second-parent adoption.
direct-placement adoption.See private adoption.
embryo adoption.Slang. The receipt of a frozen embryo that is implanted into a recipient’s
womb. • Donors must waive all parental rights before the recipients of the embryo assume legal
ownership or custody. The process is not considered to be a legal adoption because American law
does not treat embryos as children.
equitable adoption.See adoption by estoppel.
gray-market adoption.See private adoption.
identified adoption.See private adoption.
independent adoption.See private adoption.
intercountry adoption.See international adoption.
international adoption.An adoption in which parents domiciled in one nation travel to a
foreign country to adopt a child there, usu. in accordance with the laws of the child’s nation. •
International adoptions first became popular after World War II and escalated after the Korean
Conflict because of the efforts of humanitarian programs working to find homes for children left
orphaned by the wars. More recently, prospective parents have turned to international adoption as
the number of healthy babies domestically available for adoption has steadily declined. — Also
termed transnational adoption; intercountry adoption. See MULTIETHNIC PLACEMENT ACT
interracial adoption.See transracial adoption.
interstate adoption.An adoption in which the prospective parents live in one state and the
child lives in another state. See INTERSTATE COMPACT ON THE PLACEMENT OF
joint adoption.An adoption in which the prospective parents apply as a couple and are
approved or rejected as a couple, as opposed to filing separate and individual applications to adopt
a child. • Although the term most often applies to adoption by a married couple, it also applies to
an adoption petition by two unmarried partners who are adopting a child.
open adoption.An adoption in which the biological mother (sometimes with the biological
father) chooses the adoptive parents and in which the child often continues to have a post-adoption
relationship with his or her biological family. • Typically the birth parents meet the adoptive
parents and participate in the separation and placement process. The birth parents relinquish all
legal, moral, and nurturing rights over the child, but usu. retain the right to continuing contact and
to knowledge of the child’s welfare and location. Cf. closed adoption; coop-erative adoption.
posthumous adoption.An adoption that becomes legally final after the death of either an
adoptive parent or the adopted child. • Few states recognize posthumous adoptions; most require
all parties to an adoption to be alive at the time the final judgment is rendered.
private adoption.An adoption that occurs independently between the biological mother (and
sometimes the biological father) and the adoptive parents without the involvement of an agency. •
A private adoption is usu. arranged by an intermediary such as a lawyer, doctor, or counselor.
Legal custody — though sometimes not physical custody — remains with the biological parent or
parents until the termination and adoption are complete. — Also termed private-placement
adoption; direct-placement adoption; direct adoption; gray-market adoption; identified adoption;
independent adoption. Cf. agency adoption.
private-placement adoption.See private adoption.
pseudo-stepparent adoption.See second-parent adoption.
second-parent adoption.An adoption by an unmarried cohabiting partner of a child’s legal
parent, not involving the termination of a legal parent’s rights; esp., an adoption in which a lesbian,
gay man, or unmarried heterosexual person adopts his or her partner’s biological or adoptive child.
See Restatement (Third) of Property: Wills and Other Donative Transfers § 2.5 cmt. i. • Although
not all jurisdictions recognize second-parent adoption, the practice is becoming more widely
accepted. See In re Adoption of B.L.V.B., 628 A.2d 1271 (Vt. 1993); In re Adoption of Tammy,
619 N.E.2d 315 (Mass. 1993); In re Adoption of Evan, 583 N.Y.S.2d 997 (Sur. Ct. 1992). — Also
termed de facto stepparent adoption; pseudo-stepparent adoption. Cf. stepparent adoption.
stepparent adoption.The adoption of a child by a stepfather or stepmother. • Stepparent
adoptions are the most common adoptions in the United States. Cf. second-parent adoption.
transnational adoption.See international adoption.
transracial adoption.An adoption in which at least one adoptive parent is of a race different
from that of the adopted child. • Under federal law, child-placement agencies may not use race as
a factor in approving adoptions. 42 USCA § 5115a. — Also termed interracial adoption. See
MULTIETHNIC PLACEMENT ACT OF1994.
virtual adoption.See adoption by estoppel.
wrongful adoption.See WRONGFUL ADOPTION.
2.Roman law. The legal process of creating a parent–child relationship with a young person
who is still under the power of another father. • The adopted person became part of the new
paterfamilias’s agnatic family with exactly the same standing as children (or grandchildren) by
blood. This was later modified by Justinian. 3.Contracts. The process by which a person agrees to
assume a contract previously made for that person’s benefit, such as a newly formed corporation’s
acceptance of a preincorporation contract. Cf. ADROGATION. [Cases: Corporations 448(2).
C.J.S. Corporations §§ 70–71, 73.] 4.Trademarks. The mental act necessary to acquire legal rights
in a trademark, consisting of knowledge and intention to use a trademark on or in connection with
a product or service in commerce. [Cases: Trade Regulation 63.C.J.S. Trade-Marks,
Trade-Names, and Unfair Compe-tition §§ 31, 35, 37.] 5.Parliamentary law. A deliberative
assembly’s approval or endorsement by vote of a motion or report. — Also termed acceptance;
consent; passage; ratification. — adopt,vb. — adoptive,adj. [Blacks Law 8th]