Stepparent adoptions are the most common form of adoption in the United States. This process solidifies and formalizes your relationship with your stepchildren.
You obtain parental rights while they gain inheritance rights. If you are considering a stepparent adoption, these are some things you should know.
You may need permission
Before you can adopt your stepchildren, you may need the permission of their corresponding biological parent. In some cases, these parents have lost or surrendered their rights. However, in other cases, you need to find the parent and gain permission.
The biological parent may need to appear in court, or you may only need written consent. Other options exist if this parent refuses, especially if this individual abused or neglected the children. However, you must give biological parents the opportunity to voluntarily terminate their rights.
You need to appear in court
After you file a petition with the courts, you need to appear in court, even if you receive consent from the corresponding biological parent. The judge will always rule in the best interests of the child, so you need to make your case. In addition, the judge may ask your stepchildren for their opinions and desires if they are old enough.
You can file for a new birth certificate
Upon approval, you can file for new birth certificates listing you as the parent. However, do not get rid of the originals because they could prove useful later in your children’s lives. You can also change your children’s names.
To give yourself the best opportunity to adopt your stepchildren, prepare for the financial costs and time the process requires. Also, learn about specifics within your own state, such as your marriage’s longevity, whether a home study is necessary and whether your stepchildren need a Guardian Ad Litem.