If you are raising a stepchild and the other biological parent is completely out of the picture, you may want to consider taking steps toward adoption. While it isn’t necessary for a stepparent to adopt his or her partner’s children, it may be the right option for your family.

  • Ask your stepchild if he or she wants to make the relationship permanent. Depending on age, the child may have to consent and will do so in front of a judge. This is a big step—make sure you have the lines of communication open.
  • Adoption can secure guardianship in case your partner dies. As a stepparent, you may have fewer rights than the child’s biological family—even if they are far flung or barely known. Talk to an adoption attorney about laws in your state to ensure that you remain your stepchild’s guardian.
  • A stepchild who is adopted receives the same inheritance and other legal rights as any biological children in the family—including medical insurance coverage rights.
  • An adoptive parent has the right to consent in emergencies.
  • Adoption tells the world that you are a permanent family. Don’t underestimate the ritual and ceremony—making your stepchild legally yours is a huge deal. There is something incredibly special about no longer putting the “step” in front of “parent.”
  • Everyone has the same last name. While it may seem a trivial item, it can mean a lot to a child to have the same name as both mom and dad.
  • Don’t eliminate a relationship with the biological parent unless you absolutely have to. If the other biological parent is active in your stepchild’s life, consider talking to an attorney about other steps you can take to ensure that you have access to your stepchild in case of emergency or separation that doesn’t eliminate his or her relationship with the other parent. There’s always something that can be done.

To learn more about adopting a stepchild, click here.


Written by Jennifer Galan