Stepparent adoption videos are consistently trending on the Internet and are incredibly heartwarming. The moment when a child asks her stepparent to adopt her makes for a memorable moment. However, if you notice with many of these videos, the children asking to be adopted are over the age of 18. The reasoning for this is often that stepparent adoption is not always so simple. The process can often be lengthy, costly, and may not always result in the outcome for which you were hoping. Depending on the circumstances, your spouse adopting your child may be simple, or it may be impossible.
There will be a few factors to consider before exploring adoption with your spouse. The biggest hurdle that you may face is the input of the child’s biological parent. Even if that parent has not been in the picture for a time, there will still be a need to inform him or her of the intent for an adoption to occur. There will be a chance for the biological parents to respond to this petition. They can then choose to hire legal representation and plead the case as to why the adoption should not proceed. While there is a chance that the fight will still result in an adoption, there is often a tendency for biological parents to be given another chance to be present in the life of their child.
In some cases, especially in the case that a biological parent has not provided support or had visitation in years, a judge may accept proof of this and terminate that parent’s rights involuntarily. However, there will still likely be a process of attempting to inform the biological parent of the termination and allowing them a chance to respond. It is good in these cases if the biological parent will provide consent to the adoption to avoid any added court costs and dramatics. While it can often be hard to reach out due to the potential of a bad history, it is the easiest path to adoption.
In cases where the biological parent’s whereabouts is unknown or the biological parent is deceased, the path to adoption may be much easier. In this case, with the help of an attorney, you can file a petition to adopt with the courts. While an attorney may not be required in some states, I highly recommend being represented to help navigate the adoption proceedings to make sure the process is done efficiently and correctly. They will also help you to determine the best route to take for the adoption and if a home study is necessary, though it typically is not with stepparent adoptions.
Though you likely will not need a home study, your spouse will have to get an FBI background check. Certain offenses such as domestic violence, sex crimes, or some assaults may prevent them from adopting. It is best to check with your attorney before proceeding if there is any concern in this area. Once the petition for adoption has been filed and the biological parents’ rights have been terminated, consent given, or determined not to be an issue, a finalization date will be set. Finalizations are often celebratory and more a formality, officially declaring your spouse as the legal parent of your child.
Lita Jordan is a master of all things “home.” A work-from-home, stay-at-home, homeschooling mother of five. She has a BA in Youth Ministry from Spring Arbor University. She is married to the “other Michael Jordan” and lives on coffee and its unrealistic promises of productivity. Lita enjoys playing guitar and long trips to Target. Follow her on www.facebook.com/halfemptymom/.