True Story: I was adopted at age 24

Is there such a thing as adult adoption? How does one come to be 24 and adopted? Click through for one woman's sweet, sad, important story

It’s not uncommon for people to adopt babies, but what about adults? How does one end up being 24 and being adopted? By someone you don’t share DNA with? Today, Ashley shares her sad/sweet/important story.

Tell us a bit about yourself!

My name is Ashley, and I am 26 years old. I’m from Southern California but was born in Central California. I am a freelance writer, runner, cat enthusiast, and psychology student.

What was your familial situation when you were growing up?

My biological parents had me when they were teenagers. They got married, but they were 16 and 18 and it didn’t work out. My bio father was in the Navy, and my bio mother remarried a man named Keith soon after the divorce. They had a daughter together when I was 4.

How did you come to live with your now-adoptive-dad?

Less than one year after my sister was born, my mom left me and my sister with Keith. She had started using drugs and gotten involved with a man who was essentially homeless. Occasionally, she would take me to stay with her. It was absolutely terrible and frightening, and I remember my mom becoming a mean person.

About one year after she left, my mom got sober. She eventually remarried. I went to live with her and my new step-dad when I was 10 or 11, but he had three kids of his own and they had two more together. I never really had a bond with my mom, and there didn’t seem to be room for me in her new life. She was stressed out by my step-siblings, and I suspect she was resentful for her responsibilities. She sent me back to live with Keith and my sister when I was 14, and it was honestly the best thing that had ever happened to me.

When did you and your dad start thinking about adoption?

I started considering adult adoption when I was 24. My grandma (Keith’s mom) had casually mentioned it in conversation, and that got me wondering if it was even within the realm of possibility. There was no inciting incident — it just sort of happened when I realized it was an option.

Did you tell your mom and bio dad about it? 

I never kept my adoption a secret. I told my mom about it, but I didn’t explicitly tell my biological father. He’d been in and out of my life. We’re okay now, but we don’t have a close relationship. I believe he knows though. My mom thought I was angry, but I wasn’t really. I didn’t do it out of anger. I did it to celebrate the sacrifices my dad (Keith) made for me.

What are the benefits of being adopted as an adult?

The benefit is mostly emotional for me. I like knowing that the man who raised me is listed as my father. He is the only parent on my birth certificate, and if I am not married and something happens to me, I know that I can trust him to make the health decisions I would want.

Can you walk us through the process of adult adoption? 

My first step was to visit my county court’s website. They had all the necessary forms online, and all I needed to do was print them out and fill in the details. I had to briefly describe my situation in writing, and we both had to sign the documents. We brought them to the court and paid a small filing fee. I think it was somewhere between $20-$40. We were given a court date, which was two weeks away. I learned that my court did adult and child adoptions on the same day, and I was last in line.

It was kind of neat to see all these families walk out of the courtroom happy and excited to start a new life together. When it was our turn, the judge simply asked if I wanted to be adopted and if my dad wanted to adopt me. He signed the paper, and we had to take the documents back to be filed. It was done. If I was going to change my name, the process might involve additional steps.

How did you and your dad celebrate your adoption?

We didn’t actually do much to celebrate. I posted something on Facebook and we had lunch. It was a big step, but nothing had really changed because he had always been Dad to me. He does still tell me that it was the best thing he’s done.

Do you think this experience has affected the way you think about family? 

Oh, my childhood with my weird parent situation has definitely affected my perception of family. I’m not married, but I think I would like to be one day. I don’t necessarily want to have children. If I change my mind, I would be glad to adopt.

What have you learned from this that any of us could apply to our daily lives? 

I have learned that your family consists of those you build strong connections with. Simply sharing genetics does not make somebody “family.”

Thanks so much for sharing your story, Ashley! Do you guys have any questions for her?

P.S. The other sides of the coin: An interview with a woman who gave her baby up for adoption and an interview with a woman who found and met her biological mom after being given up for adoption.

9 Comments

Nikki

Thank you for sharing your story. I guess I didn’t realize that adults could be adopted, but it makes sense! I got a little teary when you wrote that your dad says adopting you is the best thing he’s done.

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Ashley

I didn’t realize adults could be adopted either until I started to look into it. I’m really happy I did. I appreciate your comments!

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Lovely

Oh wooow your story is more than just interesting, am happy for you, I just wish I out be adopted too… Wanna how having a loving family feels like, oh well guess it’s too late since am 20, but am happy for you

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BURL COVAN

I have been the step father to my twin girls since they were 9 months old . I married their mom and they had a relationship with their bio grandparents as did we for the whole time growing up. But the twist is that they are now 24 and have met their bio dad bout 5 years ago and have visited him a few times as he lives in another state . They have recently asked me to adopt them and presented me with four letter of recommendation from my closest friends. But one more twist I made a promise to their grandma when they were 4 years old that I would never adopt them for various reasons I agreed. So there are many conundrums for me to consider . One being that the girls called their bio family and my family to tell them before they asked me and when I called their grandma she was so emotionally distraught she could hardly articulate herself but she said when the girls bio dad talked to the girls he got off the phone went outside and wept . I did not respond the wY my daughters would of expected so now I’m in limbo on my decision. What do you feel I should do . My other concern is I want to glorify god in all this somehow

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Deeadra Zachary

I don’t see a reason why you wouldn’t adopt them and I don’t know why their grandma wouldn’t want you to show them the ultimate act of love by adopting them and making them your own. All in all, this is a decision that should be between you and your twin girls. If they love you and you love them, adopt them. My husband and I are adopting a 31 year old. Its the best decision that we have ever made in our whole lives. He wants a family and my husband and I need a family and love him. The blessings by doing this have been ten fold. I’ve had family members disagree with us for doing this and I’ve had friends make negative comments but it doesn’t matter. We are all happy with our decision and are looking forward to making our family bigger. Do what your heart tells you to do and God will be happy. Good luck to you and the best to your and your girls.

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