Stepchild adoption can strengthen family bonds and provide legal security for you and the child. You need to follow the process established by Washington state.
Understanding the legal requirements for this type of adoption may help you decide if this important step is right for your family.
Consent of the biological parent
The non-custodial parent must agree to the adoption and sign a legal document relinquishing parental rights. The court will keep a copy of this document on file. Stepchild adoption cannot move forward without this consent.
Home study evaluation
Once you submit parental consent, the state will conduct a home study. A social worker assesses the adoptive home as a safe and stable environment for the child, even if you already live together. In addition to the home visit, you will have a background check and interview. This process ensures you can meet the child’s physical, emotional and psychological needs.
Court petition and hearing
After a successful home study, you can file a petition with the court to adopt your stepchild. This petition includes details about the child, the biological parents and the reasons for the adoption. The court reviews the petition for compliance with all legal requirements and schedules a hearing.
The adoptive parents, the child and the non-custodial parent may be present. The judge asks any questions about the petition and makes sure the adoption meets all legal standards. If everything is in order, the judge issues a final decree of adoption legally recognizing the stepparent as the child’s parent.
When the adoption is complete, your stepchild is now your legal child. They may be eligible for insurance coverage, inheritance rights and other benefits. Update all relevant records, including school, medical and legal documents, to reflect the child’s new legal status as your child.
About 40% of births occur outside of marriage in the U.S., so many families face the question of stepparent adoption. Taking this step creates a permanent legal connection to your stepchild.