Adopting an older child can be a beautiful thing to do. It can give a foster child a real sense of family or let your stepchild know that you are as committed to them as you are to their biological parent. In order to adopt an older child, you need to meet certain criteria set by the state of Massachusetts. You also need permission from the living parent(s) if they have not lost or given up their parental rights already.
Most psychologists also recommend that you discuss the decision with the child before you start taking legal action. In Massachusetts, that advice is doubly important because the child has a say in the outcome of the adoption.
How old must a child be for their opinion to count?
Once a child reaches 12 years of age, they have to sign a document agreeing to their adoption in most circumstances. If the child you hope to adopt does not respond enthusiastically, you may have to accept that formal adoption may not be the ideal solution for your family.
Why might a child refuse an adoption?
Some children don’t want to be adopted because they worry it will change a dynamic that they currently find beneficial. Any sort of change may seem frightening to someone who’s had an unstable family and living circumstances.
It’s also possible that the child worries about hurting the feelings of a living parent, even if that parent gave up their rights or is in jail. Children may also feel similarly conflicted in situations where the adoption takes place after the death of a parent.
Instead of forcing the issue, you may want to try discussing your reasons for wanting the adoption with the child and then waiting. It’s possible that, with time, the child whom you love will reconsider their opinion and agree to support the adoption.