Adoption is a procedure by which people legally assume the role of parents for a person who is not their biological child. Adopted children become full members of their adopted family and have the same legal status as biological children. Although the majority of people who adopt are married couples, many single people also adopt.
Many people seek to adopt when they discover that they cannot give birth to biological children. Others adopt children to add new members to a family that includes biological children. Many people adopt simply to give a home and family to children who might not otherwise have them. Likewise, children become available for adoption for a variety of reasons. Some children are orphans. Some biological parents make arrangements for their children to be adopted because they cannot care for them due to illness or personal problems. Other children are abandoned by their biological parents.
Adoption is a common practice throughout the world and throughout history. However, laws regulating adoption vary from country to country. People seeking to adopt in a country other than the one in which they live, a process known as international adoption, should familiarize themselves with the laws of that country. Similarly, although every U.S. state recognizes adoption, state laws regarding specific aspects of adoption vary. Some states recognize adoptions by two people of the same sex or adoptions by a man and woman who are not married to one another.
Many states also allow the adoption of adults. Adults are usually adopted to ensure that they will inherit the estate of their adoptive parents. Some states preserve the rights of an adopted adult to inherit from his or her biological parents after the adoption.
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