The latest issue of Batman/Superman: World’s Finest confirms how Bruce Wayne adopted the first Robin, Dick Grayson. The question came up as Superman was contemplating fatherhood, with Batman pointing out the harsh realities of adoption.
Batman/Superman: World’s Finest #20 by Mark Waid, Dan Mora, and Tamra Bonvillain found Batman and Superman traveling to Earth-22. The two were searching for the missing teen hero, Boy Thunder. A refugee from another reality, Boy Thunder briefly partnered with Superman the same way Robin worked with Batman. Given their similar origins, Clark Kent was quick to bond with the young hero. Unfortunately, the same energies that gave Boy Thunder his powers drew him into another world.
Superman had no idea what happened to his protégé until the Flash detected his energy signature on Earth-22. This prompted a journey to the world of Kingdom Come. It was there, as they shared a meal and considered their next move, that Batman asked Superman what his plans were once they found Boy Thunder. Superman admits he hadn’t thought that far ahead, prompting a discussion of how Batman came to adopt the first Robin.
Batman’s wealth was the key to adopting Robin
Ever practical, Batman points out that a bachelor who travels as frequently as reporter Clark Kent would never be allowed to adopt a teenage boy. He also points out that dealing with Child Protective Services will make maintaining his secret identity even more difficult. The only reason Batman was able to overcome these problems with Robin was thanks to his wealth and position.
This discussion neatly updates a frequent plot obstacle in the Silver Age of Comics. At that time, single parents were not usually allowed to adopt. This was why Dick Grayson was referred to as Bruce Wayne’s ward rather than his son. This was also why Superman placed his cousin Supergirl in an orphanage rather than let her live with him.
Things are quite different in the modern DC books. Dick Grayson is usually portrayed as having been adopted. Likewise, Supergirl and the various Superboys have been shown living on the Kent farm, with Clark’s parents, rather than in an orphanage. It seems unlikely, however, that such a solution will be applied to Boy Thunder.