When a Stepparent Can Adopt Their Stepchild

When a Stepparent Can Adopt Their Stepchild

The modern American family has shifted to blended families, or marriages between people that have children from previous marriages. This means there are more stepparents, stepchildren, and stepsiblings. For many of these families, the option of adoption is on the table. Adoption of stepchildren means that the stepparent has legal say over their upbringing and care, and establishes the stepparent as their legal parent.

Stepparent adoption is oftentimes easier to complete than other forms of adoption since the waiting period or adoption period can be waived. However, one of the key components of stepparent adoption can also be one of the most difficult: getting both birth parents to consent to the adoption of the child in question.

What can I do to adopt my stepchild?

When a stepparent seeks to adopt a child, the child's birthparents both must consent to the adoption. Should one parent not agree to the adoption, other steps must be taken to terminate the parental rights of the birth parent. If a parent consents to the adoption, it means that they are giving up all of their parental rights, including visitation and the right to make decisions over the child's care. Conversely, some parents may be willing to give up their child support obligations and other rights and consent to the adoption.

If a parent refuses to consent to the adoption, two actions can be taken:

  1. Proving that the parent has given up their parental role and abandoned the child; or
  2. Showing that the biological father is not the presumed father of the child.

Stepparent adoptions that occur when a biological parent is alive and involved in the child's life can be emotional and complicated. In these instances, it may not make sense to go through with the adoption since the child has two parents who are legally caring for them.

At the root of it, no adoption or custody decisions should be make without considering what is in the best interests of the child involved. If the child is involved with their other biological parent, than no actions should be taken to adopt the child. However, if the child would benefit more from being adopted by their stepparent, adoption is a valid consideration.

Are you wondering how you may be able to adopt your stepchildren? Consult with an attorney at the Zendeh Del Law Firm, PLLC to learn how to proceed with your case.