If you are considering Step Parent Adoption, you may be excited about how you will celebrate this joyful time. Of course, we are sure you realize that you are bound to reap the rewards as you watch your child grow and develop healthily safe in the knowledge that they are loved and wanted.
Being legally declared as the child/children’s parent will provide many significant benefits for aiding the care and well being of your child, such as:
- Feeling accepted and acceptable!
- Limiting the decision-making power of the non-custodial parent.
- The love and security of having a safe, stable and loving home.
- Helping the child to feel wanted and supported.
- Making sound decisions for your child.
Plus it will be easier to obtain medical information if you need to!
Step Parent adoption is a wonderful and profound experience, but the process can be confusing, so to help you along the way here are the steps you need to take to adopt your stepchild legally
Did you know that you need consent to adopt your stepchild?
Well, you do, and before you tell your stepchild that you wish to adopt him or her, it might be worth organizing this step first (to avoid any disappointment on the child’s behalf).
You see, the law states that it is mandatory to obtain the consent for stepparent adoption from both the biological parents of the child/children.
This means that it is important that the non-custodial parent provides consent. Although the consent of the latter is not required if the child was completely abandoned.
For younger children, the non-custodial parents will need to be fully consenting on their behalf, but in the case of an older child, they can provide their own consent. This usually occurs when they reach the minimum age of between 10 and 14.
The exact process for obtaining and giving consent will vary depending on your state’s laws.
Brush up on your legal obligations
The laws regarding stepparent adoption will vary from state to state on the age of consent and the concerns related to inheritance.
Some states will retain the child’s inheritance, but others will completely rid the child of an inheritance from their birth parent who is relinquishing legal rights to the child unless it is declared and stated by the non-custodial parent in their own will.
Your local county court will be able to provide you with all of the necessary legal information concerning step parent adoption and will be able to give you the necessary paperwork, to get started (which will begin with the petition).
While the court may not give you any legal advice, they will be able to advise you as to whether you would need a lawyer to represent you or not.
Complete and file your paperwork
Depending on which state you are in, you may be able to find legal forms designed for the stepparent adoption process, which have been legally produced and authorized – to make the process a little easier (and cheaper).
You can even download these forms too. You can obtain the forms from your local county courthouse.
These forms will include questions related to the child that you will be adopting. You’ll also need to provide evidence for everything that you have declared. After these forms have been completed, you simply submit this to your local court.
Attend the preliminary hearing
As with other legal processes, you’ll need to attend a preliminary hearing to conclude your stepparent adoption process. Once the petition and the paperwork have been formally submitted, you will be provided with a schedule for your preliminary hearing.
The schedule for the hearing is not set, and they can take weeks or stretch out for months before they are planned. You’ll be informed of your schedule through the post which is either addressed directly to you or your attorney.
In many cases, the adopting stepparent and the stepchild will be appearing before the judge.
If the child is old enough to consent for themselves, the judge will inquire whether they agree to the adoption. In some cases, you may need to attend a series of hearings to complete the stepparent adoption process.
In some states, courts will waive the need to attend a preliminary hearing if this happens, you’ll just need to attend a final hearing.
Conclude the adoption and celebrate
Following the initial proceedings, your judge or magistrate may follow up with your family by sending over a social worker to help your family adjust to your new circumstances.
The stepparent will be granted a certificate or order which confirms that the stepparent is now the legal parent of the child.
If you also requested for your child’s name to change this is where you’ll see confirmation.
Request a new birth certificate
The final step in the stepparent adoption process is to request a new birth certificate. An important and fun step in the process! Why not make the most of it and create a wonderful memory with your new child.
Don’t forget to put a new date in your diary to celebrate ‘adoption day’ it’s a fun way to reassure your adopted child and make the whole experience an opportunity to encourage your child.
Reassurance that what you chose to do was something sacred that you want to cherish every year for the rest of your life. The impact of this on your child will be incredible!