Stepparent adoption, as the term implies, is when a stepparent adopts his or her spouse’s child(ren). However, a lot more goes into the process. If you are considering stepparent adoption for your family, keep the following few things in mind.
The reason for the adoption
What is the reason that you want to adopt this child? Is it so that you can make legal or medical decisions? Is it that the other parent is terminally ill, and both of you want to ensure the child is taken care of? It is good to know your reason(s) rather than to think about adopting as simply something that seems good. Benefits of adoption can include the following:
- Increased family stability and security
- More closeness among biological half-siblings
- Enhanced protection for the child in question
The role of the other parent
You may have a good reason to adopt, but does the child’s other parent agree? If the other parent is involved in the child’s life to a great extent, then asking to adopt the child may lead to conflict where none existed. Resentment, astonishment and frustration from the parent may result, so tread carefully.
The opposite can be true, too. Even if the parent is not at all involved, even to the point of not paying required child support, it is still possible that he or she will put up a huge fight. However, a lawyer may be able to help with mediation or with proving certain issues in court. Both you and your spouse should be on the same page when it comes to the possible adoption and dealing with the other parent.
Consent from the other parent is typically required for the adoption to proceed. An attorney can also help determine if you need consent.
The wishes of the child
Perhaps most importantly are the wishes and readiness of the child. For example, does the child call you “Daddy” or “Mommy,” or view you as a parent? If the other parent is absent, your relationship with the present parent is excellent and the child wants to formalize your relationship, then adoption can make sense for your family dynamic. On the other hand, if the child has not completely warmed up to you and/or is involved with the second parent, it may be too soon to suggest adoption.
Stepparent adoption can be relatively straightforward. At the same time, many cases have nuances that can be addressed by getting in touch with an attorney.