The Definition of Adoption
The intent of an adoption is to legally and permanently create a new relationship between a minor child and a new parent(s). The law about Adoption is found within Chapter 9 of Title 13 of the Delaware Code.
Who Can Seek to Adopt (i.e. who can Petition for Adoption)?
A Petition for Adoption may be filed in the State of Delaware if you are:
- Over 21 years old; AND
- A Delaware resident; AND
- An unmarried person; OR
- A husband and wife jointly seeking to adopt and who are NOT legally separated, living apart from each other, and/or divorced.
Effect of Adoption
Upon the issuance of the decree of adoption, the adopted child shall be considered the child of the adopting parent or parents, entitled to the same rights and privileges and subject to the same duties and obligations as if he or she had been born to the adopting parent or parents.
Upon the issuance of a decree of adoption, the adopted child shall no longer be considered the child of his or her birth parents and shall no longer be entitled to any of the rights or privileges or subject to any of the duties or obligations of a child with respect to the birth parent.
When a child who is adopted by a stepparent, his or her relationship to the birth parent who is married to the stepparent shall not be altered by reason of the adoption.
The Effect of Adoption on Inheritance
Upon the issuance of a decree of adoption, the adopted child shall lose all rights of inheritance from the natural parent(s) and their relatives. The child shall, however, gain the right to inherit from the adoptive parent(s) and their relatives. The natural parents may still dispose of their property to the child by will.
The Relationship between Termination of Parental Rights and Adoption
The Adoption Instruction Packet may be used WITH the TPR Instruction Packet when a Petition for TPR is filed by a blood relative of the child sought to be adopted. Examples of when the TPR process and the adoption process go hand-in-hand include the following situations:
- You are a blood relative of the child you seek to adopt and also the Petitioner in a Petition for TPR. In this situation, you will file the Petition for Adoption at the same time you file the Petition for TPR; OR
- You are the stepparent of the child you seek to adopt and your spouse, who is the child’s parent, is the Petitioner in a Petition for TPR. In this situation, your spouse will file the Petition for TPR at the same time you file a Petition for Adoption.
The Adoption Instruction Packet may be used by itself and NOT be used with the TPR Instruction Packet when there is no need for TPR. An example of a situation where there is no need for TPR is when you are the stepparent of the child you seek to adopt and your spouse (who is the child’s parent) is the only living parent because the other parent is deceased. Accordingly, there would be no need to terminate the deceased parent’s parental rights and only a Petition for Adoption would be necessary.