Created By: StevenT on March 23, 2013 Last Edited By: BibsDibs on March 1, 2014

Adult Adoptee

A full grown adult gets adopted.

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Trope
Normally you expect families to adopt children, but in these cases the adoptee is a full grown adult.

Usually Played for Laughs because of how absurd it seems.


Examples:

Anime and Manga
  • In Samurai Sentai Shinkenger, Kaoru adopts Takeru before stepping down as head of the Shiba Clan, making him the real lord instead of a decoy.
  • Kami no Shizuku: Wine critic Tomine is adopted by Shizuku's father Yutaka shortly before his death, with the goal of inheriting Yutaka's vast and valuable wine collection. The plot becomes a Game Between Heirs to see who inherits the collection.

Comic Books
  • One of the Superman Bizarro comics had a child adopt an adult.

Film
  • In Stuart Little, Stuart was 18 in mouse years when he was adopted by the Littles. Not that extreme an example, but still technically an adult.
  • In Little Shop of Horrors, Mushnik adopts Seymour for his money. Seymour is at least in his late teens.
  • Juda Ben Hur is adopted and made a Roman citizen by the tribun whose life he saved.

Literature

Live-Action TV
  • On an episode of The Munsters, Lily adopted an amnesiac Herman.
  • Discussed on Boy Meets World. After Shaun's father dies, his best friend Cory's family offers to adopt him. He is touched but ultimately declines.

Mythology

Newspaper Comics
  • Discussed in Calvin and Hobbes, when Calvin's father thinks, in a moment of exasperation, "We should've adopted a twenty-five year old with his own apartment."

Web Comics
  • In Something*Positive, Davan's parents adopt his acquaintance Monette after she moves in with them following a bad breakup.

Western Animation
  • On The Cleveland Show in the episode "Hustle 'N' Bros" Cleveland's father adopts Donna's ex-husband Robert.
  • In the Dan Vs. episode "The Ski Trip" an overly cheerful family Chris meets bond with him and plan to adopt him.
    Chris: I'm kind of an adult.
    Mrs. Pleasant: Don't worry about the rules. We have a friend in social services.
    Chris: And I have a wife.
    Mr. Pleasant: We'll adopt her, too!
    Chris: But then I'd be married to my sister...

Real Life
  • During some periods of the Roman Empire, it was customary for a patriarch of the family to formally adopt an unrelated-by-blood but capable (adult) successor. One famous example would be the first Roman Emperor Augustus, who was adopted by Gaius Julius Caesar at the age of 19. Likewise, all of the Five Good Emperors were adopted by their predecessors into the Antonine family at adult ages.
Community Feedback Replies: 32
  • March 23, 2013
    robinjohnson
  • March 23, 2013
    DunDun
    In Norse Mythology, Odin technically "adopts" Loki into his family through an oath. They're considered blood-brothers, though some creators have decided to make Loki his son over the years.
  • March 23, 2013
    Koveras
    • Truth In Television: During some periods of the Roman Empire, it was customary for a patriarch of the family to formally adopt an unrelated-by-blood but capable (adult) successor. One famous example would be the first Roman Emperor Augustus, who was adopted by Gaius Julius Caesar at the age of 19. Likewise, all of the Five Good Emperors were adopted by their predecessors into the Antonine family at adult ages.
  • March 23, 2013
    Chabal2
    I think the ancient Chinese could also adopt adults into their families.

    Juda Ben Hur is adopted and made a Roman citizen by the tribun whose life he saved.
  • March 23, 2013
    AliceMacher
    • In Something Positive, Davan's parents adopt his acquaintance Monette after she moves in with them following a bad breakup.
    • Discussed in Calvin And Hobbes, when Calvin's father thinks, in a moment of exasperation, "We should've adopted a twenty-five year old with his own apartment."
  • March 23, 2013
    Kayube
    In Samurai Sentai Shinkenger, Kaoru adopts Takeru before stepping down as head of the Shiba Clan, making him the real lord instead of a decoy.
  • March 23, 2013
    littlemissmuffet
  • March 23, 2013
    sgamer82
    • Firekeeper in the Firekeeper Saga is adopted by the Earl Kestrel following her retrieval from the wilds.
  • March 23, 2013
    MrInitialMan
    In The Mallorean, Ran Borune adopts Varana as his heir, as the Emperor has no son.
  • March 24, 2013
    IsaacSapphire
    Being adopted after turning 18 is part of Cairo's backstory in the Warchild Series.

    As this is a method of forming legal familial bonds between adults of the same gender that is socially acceptable in Japan, adult adoption is sometimes used by gay couples. This is discussed and sometimes acted upon in Yaoi manga.
  • March 24, 2013
    Sackett
    First I'd say this is not usually played for laughs, this is usually done for dynastic reasons and that's how it's usually played.

    Also, a few of your examples are no good:

    • In Stuart Little, Stuart was 18 in mouse years when he was adopted by the Littles. Not that extreme an example, but still technically an adult.

    Incorrect. Stuart Little was not adopted, he is the natural born son of the Littles.

    • In the Family Guy episode "Mother Tucker" Tom Tucker starts dating Peter's mother and even after she breaks up with him he continues to treat Peter like a son.

    That's not adoption. That would be a different trope, probably called Like A Son To Me.

  • March 24, 2013
    IsaacSapphire
    I think Stuart's origins are different in the book and the movie. He's the (somehow) biological child of the Littles in the book and adopted in the movie.
  • March 24, 2013
    DunDun
    The description probably needs to be expanded a bit - it's just so simple I fear people might put technically incorrect examples in (like the Stuart Little example not clarifying whether it was for the adaptation or the original). Though maybe just organizing the examples better might fix that?

    Also, I agree that this is not usually Played For Laughs, such as in the Norse Mythology example or other Real Life / Religion examples to follow.
  • March 24, 2013
    Waterlily
    Discussed on Boy Meets World. After Shaun's father dies, his best friend Cory's family offers to adopt him. He is touched but ultimately declines.
  • March 31, 2013
    capsaicinfinity
    In the Song of the Lioness books, adult Alanna is adopted by Myles of Olau, making her Alanna of Trebond and Olau.
  • April 1, 2013
    GeminiSparkSP
    Your example of Samurai Sentai Shinkenger falls into the wrong category. It should be listed under the Live Action TV instead of Anime and Manga.
  • April 1, 2013
    Duncan
    In Real Life, homosexual couples, in order to get around laws that don't allow them to marry (to ensure hospital visitation, life-or-death decision making or inheritance rights), one can adopt the other.
  • April 1, 2013
    BibsDibs
    • Kami No Shizuku: Wine critic Tomine is adopted by Shizuku's father Yutaka shortly before his death, with the goal of inheriting Yutaka's vast and valuable wine collection. The plot becomes a Game Between Heirs to see who inherits the collection.
  • April 2, 2013
    thEpirate
    In Codex Alera Gaius Sextus adopts Aquitainus Attis who is 50 years old at the time.
  • April 15, 2013
    randomsurfer
    • On Newhart Larry, Darryl and Darryl take it into their head to adopt a child; the adoption agency allows them to adopt a boy who is 17 years 11 months old.
    • In the Korean Historical Drama Emperor Wang Guhn (and the real life history it reflects) the Emperor of Silla note  has no male heir, so he adopts the man who marries his daughter. The daughter is thought to be barren so the new Emperor has a son with a concubine; but then the Empress becomes pregnant, and it's another son, which complicates things and leads indirectly to the downfall of Silla.
  • April 16, 2013
    Thnikkafan
    Just so you know, the Little Shop Of Horrors use of this trope is only in the musical stage version, so it should be under Theatre.
  • April 16, 2013
    SharleeD
    • Real Life adults with severe mental challenges are often the legal wards of responsible family members. If their legal guardian dies or can no longer provide for them, custody may be transferred to another responsible party, in an arrangement similar to adopting a minor child.
    • Minor stepchildren can be adopted by their stepparent as a guarantee of custody and support in the event of the biological parent's death. Adult stepchildren don't need the guarantee, but occasionally choose to take a stepfather's surname as a gesture of respect and affection.
  • April 16, 2013
    IsaacSapphire
    Expanding on the Real Life Japanese practice, it's often done by families with companies to pass on, and may be part of how inherited companies stay competitive in that country http://www.economist.com/news/asia/21567419-family-firms-adopt-unusual-approach-remain-competitive-keeping-it-family
  • February 23, 2014
    XFllo
    I took off one hat because the description needs help.
  • February 24, 2014
    DouglasFir
    Near the end of Yours, Mine and Ours, Frank and Helen adopt each other's children. Mike, the eldest, is eighteen at the start of the movie.
  • February 24, 2014
    HellKillUsAll
    • An episode of Cow And Chicken ends with Mom and Dad adopting the Red Guy because he's scared of everything, unlike their desensitized children.
  • February 24, 2014
    DAN004
    Flesh out description plz.
  • February 24, 2014
    Bibliophile
    In the Song Of The Lioness quartet Myles has acted as a father-figure to Alanna since she first arrived at the palace;, then in The Woman Who Rides Like a Man, the Bazhir perform the rite that allows him to adopt her as his heir. Later, he then becomes her father-in-law as well when he marries the widowed mother of her husband.
  • February 26, 2014
    Chabal2
    Total War has this as a game mechanic, where distinguished individuals can be adopted into the reigning family to provide marriage opportunities or a Spare To The Throne if need be. Several fanfics explore the non-mechanical aspect, like I Am Skantarios (Skantarios has no male children, which he always regrets, and so adopts his best generals, which leads to problems when his Non Action Guy brother becomes Emperor) or A Scotsman In Egypt (a Uriah Gambit is set up by one of the legitimate heirs who doesn't want the bloodline to pass to a stranger).

  • March 1, 2014
    XFllo
    Do you think it is tropeworthy? I am willing to work on the draft, but I would like to know if it is worth my effort. :-)
  • March 1, 2014
    DAN004
    ^ I say tropeworthy. :D
  • March 1, 2014
    Generality
    In Japan, 98% of adoptees are adult males, who become part of a company-owning family in order to ensure that the family name stays in control.
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