Stepparent Adoptions: What You Should Know
If you are a stepparent and are hoping to adopt your stepchild, it is most likely not a complicated process. This is often easier than regular adoption, since you don't need to go through the home study and other steps in the process might be waived by the courts. In most cases, you don't need much more than consent from the biological parent. Here is more information about what you need to do to adopt your stepchild.
You Need Consent
The most difficult part of adopting your stepchild is trying to get consent. You can't adopt them unless the child's legal parent or birth parent consents to it. When they do this, they are giving up all legal rights to the child. If they refuse, you will not be able to progress further with the adoption unless their parental rights are terminated. This can only happen if they fail to support the child, are an unfit parent, or abandon the child.
It is important for the birth parent of the child to be aware they are not just consenting to the adoption, but giving up their parental rights. You can allow them to see the child, but they don't have a right to visitation if you don't allow it. If the parent refuses to give their consent, but you truly believe it would be in the child's best interest for you to adopt them and the other parent to give up their parental rights, you can get help from a family lawyer.
Be Aware of the Emotional Issues
When adopting a stepchild, there are some emotional issues to be aware of. The child might be old enough to know who their birth parent is, and will have a hard time understanding they are no longer a parent. If you take away visitation rights after the adoption, they can feel abandoned by their parent. It is best to try and work out something that is best for the child and entire family, by still allowing contact. Just because they no longer have parental rights, doesn't mean the child feels like they are no longer their mom or dad. This is something the entire family will need to consider and deal with, making family counseling highly recommended.
The Adoption Process
The first step of the stepparent adoption process is always getting consent from the birth parent. Once they have filled out the right paperwork, you will go to court to get more information. There are more forms for you and your spouse to fill out, which will complete the adoption process. Many states require a fee to be paid, and you will most likely complete the adoption by meeting with a judge in their chambers. In some states, the judge wants to talk to the child about the adoption before they will proceed.
For more information, contact Woehrle Franklin Dahlberg Jones PLLC or a similar firm.