Adoption is often used to build or extend a family. But what happens when the person you wish to adopt is over the age of 18?


John was born in South Australia and has been raised by his mother and step-father since he was a young child. John has always referred to his step-father as his 'father'. John, now 30 years old, wishes to formalise his relationship with his step-father this year as a 60th birthday present. John wishes to do this, by having his step-father legally adopt him.

Adult adoption in South Australia

Adult adoption can now occur in South Australia. Read our most up-to-date blog posts on the  adult adoption in South Australia and how the new adoption act affects estate planning.

The Adoption (Review) Amendment Act 2016 (SA)

In 2014 and 2015, the South Australian Adoption Act 1988 and the supporting Adoption Regulations 2004 were independently reviewed. Following this review, the South Australian Parliament passed theAdoption (Review) Amendment Act 2016 (SA).

Included in the Adoption (Review) Amendment Act 2016 (SA) is section 10A. This Section will allow an adult to be adopted by a person, just like John's step-father. However, those wishing to adopt an adult must prove to the court that they have a significant parent-to-child relationship that exists between the prospective adoptive parent or parents and the adult seeking to be adopted, such as John.

The Adoption (Review) Amendment Act 2016 (SA) section 10A goes beyond just John's situation as it will allow same-sex couples to formally adopt children they may have cared for, the partner of a deceased parent to legally recognise the relationship they have with an adult they consider to be their child, and it will allow foster parents and step-parents to legally recognise a much-loved member of their family.

The regulations that support section 10A have now been finalised and Section 10A will be enacted. John can surprise his step-father by asking him to formally adopt him as his son.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.