Stepparent adoption – which involves the stepparent in a marriage adopting the child of their spouse – is the most common type of adoptions in America. Over 100,000 stepchildren get adopted by their stepparents every year.
In some ways, stepparent adoption is easier than traditional adoption, as certain aspects get sloughed off because they do not make sense in the context. However, stepparent adoptions have hurdles like any other form of adoption.
Will the birth parent forfeit rights?
Creating a Family looks into stepparent adoptions and potential struggles adopting parents may face. First, in order to adopt the stepchild, their biological parent must give up their legal rights. It is possible for the court to step in and overrule them if they refuse to terminate their rights willingly. However, this will likely only work if the biological parent has a history of abuse, neglect or the courts have otherwise deemed them unfit.
Handling new family dynamics tactfully
Next, understand that the family dynamic in a stepparent adoption situation is different than traditional adoption. In traditional adoption, the newcomer is the child. In stepparent adoption, the newcomer is the new spouse. Thus, it is important to keep this difference in mind when figuring out how to bridge potential rifts and get all family members acclimated to a new dynamic.
Finally, be mindful of the fact that your child will likely want to ask questions. They may want to know more about their birth parent, but could sense it is a sensitive issue. Thus, it is up to the parent and stepparent to pave the way by making it clear that it is okay for your child to ask questions and that they will get answers.