Adoption, the taking of another's child as one's own, still regulated by law in Germany and France, as it was in Rome. Where the party adopted is under age, and actually under the parents' power, it is called adoption proper; but where it is of age, sui juris, adrogation. The abstract rule that adoption must imitate nature, though derivable from regulations of the Roman law, such as that forbidding eunuchs to adopt, and that requiring the adopter to be at least 18 years older than the adopted, is not fully carried out, since by the same law those incapable of procreation may adopt. In Germany, while the child is more completely absorbed into the family of the adopter than he was in Rome, numerous subtle distinctions have been engrafted upon this title of the law; while the Code Napoleon admits adoption only to a limited extent. A prerequisite to adoption in Rome was leave from the college of priests; in Germany the sanction of the prince or judge is required. In Texas, a person may adopt another to be his legal heir by filing a statement, authenticated like a deed, expressing his intention so to do, with the county clerk, thereby entitling him to all the rights and privileges of a legal heir, except that if the adopter have a legitimate child or children, the adopted shall in no case inherit more than a fourth part of the testamentary estate of the adopter.
In several of the states adoption has been made the subject of recent statutes; for example, in Illinois (1867) and Kansas (1868). The proceeding under these acts is in general similar to that which has existed for a long time in Massachusetts. In that state, any person may present a petition to the probate court for the adoption of a child not his own, and, if desired, for a change of the child's name. If the petitioner has a husband or wife, the application will not be entertained by the court unless such husband or wife join in it. The consent of the child's parents, or of the survivor of them, must be procured in writing; or if it has no parent, its guardian or next of kin or some person appointed by the court must give the requisite consent. And the adoption will not be sanctioned without the child's consent, if it is more than 14 years old. The child thus adopted, for all purposes of inheritance, and in respect to all the other legal consequences and incidents of the natural relationship of parent and child, is deemed the child, born in lawful wedlock, of the person who adopts it, except that it shall not take property limited to the heirs of the body of the new parents, nor coming from their collateral kindred.
An appeal from the decision of the probate court upon the petition lies in favor of either the petitioner or the child to the supreme court; and any person interested who had not actual notice of the proceeding may apply within a year for a reversal of the order of the probate court. In Louisiana the proceedings are more like those of the civil law. The person adopting must be at least 40 years old, and at least 15 years older than the person adopted. Married persons must concur about the adoption.