TN 38 (01-16)
PR 01310.025 Michigan
A. PR 16-034 Validity of Adoption of Adult in Michigan
DATE: November 19, 2015
The claimant’s adoption was valid. In general, an amended birth certificate issued as the result of a U.S. adoption will establish the validity of the adoption. However, when the person adopted is age twenty-one or over, further inquiry is required. We checked whether the Michigan law is current, and confirmed that the law still liberally allows adoption of adults in Michigan. An individual who is to be adopted, regardless of whether the individual is a child or an adult is an adoptee under Michigan law. Adults in Michigan can be adopted the same as minors (with minor exceptions that apply to wills, and which have no relevance here). Therefore, the adoption should be considered valid under state law and for program purposes.
BACKGROUND AND QUESTION PRESENTED
On September XX, 2014, the Family Division of the Circuit Court of Kalamazoo County, Michigan entered an Order of Adoption, granting adoption of L~ to number holder J~. L~, who is incapacitated due to mental deficiency, was thirty-six years old at the time J~ adopted her. L~ has been living with J~ at the same address in Michigan since at least 2004. J~ has filed a claim for Child Disability Benefits on behalf of L~, and has submitted the Order of Adoption dated September XX, 2014, and an amended Birth Certificate dated October XX, 2014. You asked whether L~ was validly adopted by J~. We conclude that she was.
In general, an amended birth certificate issued as the result of a U.S. adoption will establish the validity of the adoption. POMS GN 00306.155(A). However, when the person adopted is age twenty-one or over, further inquiry is required. POMS GN 00306.135.
According to POMS PR 01310.025 Michigan, adults in Michigan can be adopted the same as minors (with minor exceptions that apply to wills, and which have no relevance here). POMS PR 01310.025 Michigan. We checked whether the law in POMS PR 01310.025 Michigan is current, and confirmed that Michigan’s law still liberally allows adoption of adults. Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. § 710.22 (An “individual who is to be adopted, regardless of whether the individual is a child or an adult” is an adoptee under Michigan law).
Therefore, the general rule -- that an amended birth certificate issued as a result of an Order of Adoption can be used to prove the validity of the adoption -- applies here, as it would in the case of the adoption of a minor. GN 00306.155(A). In this case, we have the Order of Adoption and the amended Birth Certificate. The amended Birth Certificate was issued shortly after the Order of Adoption, and thus appears on its face to have been issued as a result of the adoption. Therefore, the adoption should be considered valid under state law and for program purposes.
For the reasons discussed above, we find that J~’s adoption of L~ should be considered valid under state law and for program purposes.
Acting Regional Chief Counsel, Region V
Assistant Regional Counsel
B. PR 02-030 MOS-Michigan-Does Michigan Consider Adoption of a Disabled Adult Valid? Claimant: M~, Number Holder: C~
DATE: February 12, 2002
Michigan's Adoption Code allows adults to be adopted in the same manner and with the same effect as adopted minor children. The adoption of a disabled adult by the NH appears to be valid under Michigan's adoption law.
M~ is mentally retarded and receives SSI benefits based on disability. He was born in 1956. M~'s natural parents are unknown and he has been in foster care or an institution since he was one month old. Beginning around 1967, C~ and M2~ became M~'s foster parents. On December XX, 1985, when M~ was 29 years old, the Probate Court of the County of Oakland, Michigan, entered an "Order Terminating Parental Rights and Order for Adoption of the Adult Adoptee," (Order) stating that C~ and Mrs. M2~ became the parents of M~. The Order states that "[t]he mental and physical condition of the Adoptee is such as to make the Adoptee a proper subject for adoption" and that the consent to the adoption was "genuine and given by the person(s) having legal authority to sign the consent." M~, C~, and M2~ have resided in Michigan at all times. C~ stated that adoption was suggested by M~'s State of Michigan social worker to help get health insurance benefits for M~ from C~' employer's group health plan.
In January 2001, C~ became entitled to and applied for Retirement Insurance Benefits. On March XX, 2001, M~ applied for Disabled Child's Insurance Benefits. It is not contested that M~ is unmarried and has always been disabled.
M~ is entitled to Title II child's benefits on C~' account so long as (1) he is C~'s child; (2) he is dependent on C~; (3) he applies; (4) he is unmarried; and (5) as an individual over the age of eighteen, he was under a disability that began prior to age twenty-two. See 42 U.S.C. § 402(d)(1); 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.350-404.368. A "child" includes an individual's legally adopted child. 42 U.S.C. § 416(e); 20 C.F.R. § 404.356. An adoption is legal if it complies with the adoption laws of the State where it took place and at least one party to the adoption was domiciled or residing in that State at the time of the adoption. POMS GN 00306.135; see also 20 C.F.R. § 404.356.
In Michigan, the entire subject of adoption is governed entirely by statute and proceedings in probate court must strictly comply with the terms of the authorizing statute. Matter of Adams, 473 N.W.2d 712, 714 (Mich. Ct. App. 1991)(citing In re Milner's Estate, 36 N.W. 2d 914 (mich. 1949); In re L~, 128 N.W. 2d 475 (Mich. 1964)). Michigan's Adoption Code allows adults to be adopted the same as minors. See Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. §§ 710.22 ("'Adoptee' means the individual who is to be adopted, regardless of whether the individual is a child or an adult"), 710.24 (listing requirements for petitions for adoption of "a child or an adult"), 710.60 (after entry of Order of Adoption, there is no distinction between the rights of a natural child and the rights of an adoptee; effect of adoption is no different for adult adoptees than minor adoptees). The statutes give no exceptions that might disallow or discount the Order of adoption in this case.
We found only one exception to the legal recognition of adult adoptees. Michigan courts have held that, where the term "child" was used in a will, that term should be construed to include an adopted adult child, unless there was an abuse of the adoption process in order to obtain benefits under the will. Thurston v. Thurston, 363 N.W.2d 298, 300 (Mich. Ct. App. 1985) and In re Nowels Estate, 339 N.W.2d 861 (Mich. Ct. App. 1983). But see Mich. Comp. Laws Anno. § 700.2707 (April 2000)(clarifying circumstances under which and adopted person may inherit, by virtue of the adoptive relationship, from someone other than the adoptive parent). These cases, however, do not apply to the question of whether M~ can qualify for child's insurance benefits, since the court's holdings are limited to the context of donative transfers and since it is clear that the primary purpose of M~'s adoption was to ensure health care benefits for M~ rather than to allow M~ to take property under a will.
We have been unable to discover any past or current Michigan law that requires "intentions of filing" for adoption prior to age 18 (as mentioned in the documentation of the initial denial) to validate an adult adoption.
Michigan's law liberally allows adoption of adults. The effect of an adoption in Michigan is the same whether the adoption took place when the adoptee was a minor or an adult. M~ should be considered a child of C~ and M2~ and, so long as other requirements are met, granted Child's Insurance Benefits as the disabled child or C~.
Thomas W. C~
Regional Chief Counsel
Assistant Regional Counsel