Adoption is a legal proceeding to create the legal relationship of parent and child where that relationship did not exist previously. Once an adoption is completed, all the rights and responsibilities of parent and child come into existence. Adoptive parents have a legal responsibility to support their adopted minor children and have full rights to make decisions for them. Adopted children inherit from their adoptive parents just like natural children do, and take equally with natural children if there are both kinds of children in the family.

The most commonly encountered adoptions are couples seeking to adopt a child to raise in their household as their own. The numbers of available infants and young children in New Hampshire who are available to be adopted is small in comparison to the number of couples wanting to adopt. Many more children of later years become available for adoption under the auspices of child abuse/neglect cases and terminations of parental rights, as do children with disabilities. Many prospective adoptive parents shy away from such children for fear of the difficulties they may have raising them.

The other regularly encountered adoptions are stepparents adopting their stepchildren. Stepparent adoptions require the consent of the spouse and a relinquishment of parental rights by the other natural parent.

New Hampshire adoption law allows any adult to adopt another person, whether the person being adopted is an adult or a child. Adult adoptions, though not common, are an important recognition in some families of the love and care that foster parent or stepparents provided for that person during his or her lifetime.

“Adoption of children should be done with the help of adoption agencies and an attorney.”

It is critically important that all necessary steps in a child adoption be done correctly so that there are no disruptions or dashed hopes in the process. Adoption procedures are rigorously enforced by the courts and require a number of steps and legal protections for the child and the natural parents. If a child under age 18 is to be adopted, the parent must surrender his or her parental rights or have those rights terminated before an adoption can proceed.