A while back, I was contacted by an old client who unfortunately told me he was terminally ill with cancer. Mr. Smith, (as we’ll refer to him and obviously this is not his real name), my old client, contacted me to tell me that he wanted to get his Will updated. So we proceeded with updating his Will to make sure that his widow would be taken care of. As we were discussing estate planning, his current situation and life in general, Mr. Smith said I have one regret in my life. When I asked him what that regret was, he said you know, my wife and I really have one child and that would be her child, the stepchild that I raised as my own from the age of one. And I’m the only father that she’s ever really known and now she’s an adult graduated from college and to this day, she doesn’t bear my name and that does create some regret for her, for me and for my wife. And then I said you know, there’s a little unknown area in our adoption law that allows for the adoption of an adult. Mr. Smith looked astonished and said really and I replied yes. If there was a parent-like relationship during the minority of the child similar to a stepparent-child relationship or foster parent-child relationship, Ohio law allows an adult child to be adopted.
Mr. Smith was elated. He said really, what can we do? Well I said, let me ask you a number of questions. Tell me the ways you were a father to your stepdaughter and he said that’s simple. I raised her, I fed her, I clothed her, took her to church, baptized her, paid for her schooling, loved her, disciplined her, educated her, provided heath, maintenance and support. I replied, this more than fulfills Ohio’s requirements to allow for an adult adoption. They asked whether or not this would change the original birth certificate. I said it doesn’t change the original birth certificate, but a brand new birth certificate is created, which will show your wife again as mother, your name as father and it would give your stepdaughter (new adopted adult daughter) your name. They were elated so we proceeded to prepare the Petition for Adoption of Adult documents and filed them.
I’ll never forget the tears of joy and of sadness all witnessed after the final adoption hearing was concluded when the Judge found we had demonstrated by clear and convincing evidence that a parent-child like relationship did exist during the adult child’s minority, and he approved the adoption, issued a final decree and forever changed the stepdaughter’s name to that of her adoptive father’s. There were tears of joy and sadness and Mr. Smith finally felt like he was his stepdaughter’s real father now that a birth certificate would show the same.