Step parents often play a pivotal role in the decision making, raising, and overall caregiving of a step child. For all intents and purposes, in most situations, this individual is as much of a parent as if they were a biological parent. With that being said, why would it make sense to adopt if you already feel like a parent? The answer is mainly for legal purposes.
Adopting a Stepchild: The Benefits
According to adoptionlawgroup.com, there are many legal benefits to adopting a stepchild that step and biological parents should consider when making these decisions.
Though some decision making may be able to made in your relationship with your partner, but officially, there are some legal prohibitors based on your step child’s age, etc. Should you adopt, you’ll be able to officially make some of these decisions. This matters especially should something happen to your partner to prohibit them from making these decisions or should you divorce, you’ll still have legal rights as a parent if you’ve adopted the child.
In some instances, you may also contribute to terminating the rights of a biological parent should this be something that your family has made a decision to do for various reasons.
One of the biggest benefits to stepchild adoption is that you are expressing to a child how much you want to be their parent. By making things legal in this sense, you’re making a pact to parent that child–kids see this and will understand how devoted you are to parenting them.
Adopting a Stepchild: How to Do It
Though it’s exciting to start the process of adopting a stepchild, like any other adoption process, there are legal steps to take. Childwelfare.gov offers an amazing fact sheet to help understand your next steps and what action you need to take to move forward. Like any other adoption process, you’re filing papers, going to court, and going through a process, so it is imperative that you get a lawyer and potentially an adoption agency to help with these steps.
To get started, you’ll need to check with your state and potentially a lawyer to get this started. Each state and in some instances, each city or county, have different procedures and laws. The biggest hurdle in the adoption of a stepchild is if the other parent is living. You could be looking at a court hearing should that parent not relinquish their rights. If the biological parent is living, but not in the child’s life or their whereabouts are unknown, a search will still likely be done.
Once those steps are completed, like any other adoption, a petition to adopt will be submitted to a court and an adoption granted.
Though it may not be simple to do depending on your circumstances, no adoption is a simple process because the court has to do their job to determine that the individual who is choosing to adopt has the child’s best interests in mind. There are so many benefits to step adoption, but remember that the most important reason is for the well being of a child.