As blended families become more accepted, there are more stepparents. It is natural that some stepparent-stepchild relationships become as strong as those between biological parents and children.
Stepparents may want to adopt their stepchildren for many reasons, including wanting to share a name or obtain legal rights. However, adopting a stepchild can seem like a daunting process and individuals often have many questions about it.
1. Is the other parent’s consent necessary?
A stepparent adoption requires the permission of both parents. The law requires the termination of the biological rights of the parent whose place the stepparent is legally stepping into. This requires either consent or a trial where a court forcible terminates the rights due to some extenuating circumstances such as the biological parent abandoning the stepchild for a period or being extremely abusive.
2. Is there an investigation?
For step-parent adoption, the prospective adoptive parent and family must meet with a social worker. The social worker prepares a post-placement report, which essentially assesses if the adoption is in the best interests of the child. There is also a hearing after the assessment and the termination of biological rights.
3. What happens if the other parent is unlocatable?
If the biological parent’s location is unknown, it does not have to stall adoption proceedings. The court must notify the biological parent of the petition for adoption, but if he or she is unlocatable, officials may send a notification to the last known address or publish a notice or ad in the local newspaper to fulfill this requirement.
After the retrieval of consent from all parties, step-parent adoption is not usually difficult. Filing the proper paperwork and getting through the assessment and hearing are all that remain.