Stepparent Adoption

When Stepparents Step Up

Current Issues

Stepparent AdoptionWhat makes someone a parent? Parenthood does not lie solely in biological makeup. Anyone can step up to the part, as long as they are willing to take responsibility. But, the legal process of becoming a parent can be complicated. How can one adopt another’s child? To be more specific, how can stepparents stake a legal claim on their partner’s children?

Law offices like weigh in on the issue. Here are some things adoptive stepparents need to know before stepping up to parenthood.

Do I need the consent of the birth parents?

Yes. Making sure all parties have no objection about the adoption is the first step. If, however, a birth parent’s rights to the child have been terminated, then their consent is not necessary. Termination of the rights must be due to neglect, abandonment, failure to pay child support and unfitness.

Getting the consent is one of the most difficult parts of the process. Once the birth parent gives it, they give all their rights as the child’s parent. Some find that adoption is in their child’s best interests, so in those cases, stepparents may have an easier time getting consent.

How can I proceed if they do not consent?

Should they withhold it, the other party has to prove they are not fit to take on parenting responsibilities. To prove that they abandoned the child or are unfit, the stepparent must present pieces of evidence during hearings, which the court will conduct. In most states, a parent is deemed unfit if they are often negligent or fail to visit. Failure to pay child support is a strong basis for an abandonment complaint.

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My partner and I are a same-sex couple. Can we adopt children?

While same-sex marriage is now legal in all 50 states, the legitimacy of adoption involving same-sex couples is still uncertain. The process is still a subject of debates, although many advocates express their support for the cause.

Stepping up to the role of being a parent is a process. Legal adoption may just be the first of many steps, but it is one that makes parenthood possible.