Legal Rights of an Adopted Child

By Beverly Bird

mother, father and daughter image by Galina Barskaya from

Adoption is a legal act that formally establishes a parent-child relationship between two people not biologically related as parent and child. An adopted child has all the legal rights to support and sustenance from his new parents as does a biological child. In 2010, legislation also ruled that adopted children might still have some inheritance rights to the estates of their biological parents, as well.

Rights in Adoption

Some states require that a child 10 years of age or older must consent to the adoption. This is typically an issue in stepparent or third-party adoptions when another family member wants to step in and assume the role of parent.

Rights in Divorce

According to the website Woman's Divorce, the law does not treat adopted children any differently than biological children in a divorce situation. Even in stepparent adoptions, both parents are entitled to visitation with the child after a legal adoption. Both parents are responsible for financially supporting the child even if one of them is an adoptive stepparent.

Read More: Step-Parent's Rights After a Divorce

Rights Regarding Birth Parents

Most states assign three categories to the information an adopted child is entitled to regarding his birth parents. The laws depend on the birth parents' willingness to divulge information, usually through a state-run registry. Non-identifying information involves ethnic background and general information such as the education, religious background and general appearance of the parents. Identifying information includes their names and addresses. Medical information reveals predispositions to diseases and conditions. According to the website USLegal, Alabama, Colorado, California, New York, Washington, Michigan, Wyoming and New Jersey have the most liberal laws allowing adopted children to learn about their birth parents.

Inheritance Rights

The laws in most states provide that an adopted child is entitled to the same rights of inheritance as natural-born children when an adoptive parent dies. In 2010, the Texas Supreme Court extended the time to contest a will from two years after probate to four years after probate to allow adult children time to claim an inheritance in some situations if they were unaware that the deceased was their biological parent.