ADOPTION, Adoptio, an act by which anyone takes another into his family, owns him for his son, and appoints him his heir. See FAMILY, SON, &c.

The word is derived from adoptare; whence came adoubare, to make a Knight: whence also Miles adoubatus, a Knight newly made or dubbed; he who knighted him, being said in some sense to adopt him. See KNIGHT.

The custom of adopting was very familiar among the ancient Romans, who had an express formula for it— They first learned it from the Greeks, among whom it was called υιοθεσία, Filiation. See ADOPTIVE.

As Adoption was a sort of imitation of nature, intended for the comfort of those who had no children; eunuchs were not allowed to adopt; as being under an actual impotency of begetting children. See EUNUCH. Neither was it lawful for a young man to adopt an elder;because that had been contrary to the order of nature: but it was even required that the person who adopted should be eighteen years older than his adoptive son; that there might at least appear a probability of his being the natural father. The Romans had two forms of adoption; the one before the Praetor: the other at an assembly of the people, in the times of the Commonwealth, and afterwards by a rescript of the Emperor.

In the first, the natural father addressed himself to the Praetor, declaring that he emancipated his son, resigned all his authority over him, and consented he should be transferred into the family of the adopter. See EMANCIPATION.

The latter manner of adoption was practiced where the party to be adopted was already free; and was called adrogation. See ADROGATION.

The person adopted changed all his names; assuming the prename, name, and surname of the person who adopted him. See NAME.

They had likewise their testamentary adoptions, wherein persons were adopted by the last will of the deceased;but these were never esteemed valid until they had been confirmed by the people. See TESTAMENT.

Of late years, another form of adoption has taken place; and this is, by cutting off the hair of a person, and delivering it to the father that is to adopt him. See HAIR, and TONSURE. It was this way that Pope John VIII. adopted Boso, King of Arles; which perhaps is the only instance in history of adoption in the order of ecclesiastics; a law that professes to imitate nature, not daring to give children to those in whom it would be thought a crime to beget any. M. Bouffart, in his Notæ Theologicæ, gives us diverse modern forms of adoption; some performed at baptism; others by the sword, &c. See BAPTISM.