Adopting a stepchild involves a lot more than the legal procedures and paperwork. It enables the stepparent to take a step ahead in bonding with the child. The following article will explain this process in detail.
A stepparent taking legal and financial responsibility for his or her spouse’s children (step parenting), is the most common form of adoption in the United States. With an increase in second marriages, there also has been an increase in stepchild adoptions. The adoption process is actually quite simple, although it might take some time before you have completed all the formalities.
Before you start the procedure, it is important that you discuss it with your spouse, your stepchild or stepchildren, and their biological parents. You can file for adoption only after all of them have agreed to it, especially the children. They should be willing to be adopted by you, and you must know that even after the adoption, they might share a stronger bond with their biological parent than the one with you. Think about all the pros and cons of adopting your stepchildren, raising them, and taking care of their parental responsibility, before you finally decide to go ahead with the procedures.
By adopting a stepchild, you are agreeing to be entirely responsible for your spouse’s child. The legal procedures involving this scenario are different, as the laws in every State may vary slightly.
Research your State’s Laws: You can begin with the process by researching about all the laws related to adoption in your state. You can also speak to an adoption lawyer regarding the same, and get all your doubts clarified.
Consent of Biological Parents: The most important step in this process is to obtain the written consent of the biological parents of the child/children. Therefore, you will need to take the consent of your spouse, as well as the other parent. You will require to check through your state’s laws to find out whether you can adopt a stepchild, if the noncustodial parents object to it.
Contact the Court Handling Adoptions: You will need to find out the courts in your state, which handle such procedures. In some states, it is handled by the juvenile court, and in the others, by the family court or surrogate court. Check if they can mail you an information packet, or else find out if the court requires you to hire a lawyer, or if you could represent yourself. Also, obtain all the legal forms required for the process.
Legal Forms Submission: Once you have filled out the required legal forms, you will have to submit the same to the court. These forms will also have an option, where you can choose to change your stepchild’s name after adoption, or keep it as it is. You will also need to submit the required documents like your marriage license, the child’s birth certificate, the biological parents’ written consent, etc.
The Hearing: After the submission of your legal forms, a date will be assigned for the court hearing, which will be communicated to you through your lawyer or via mail. You will have to present yourself at the hearing, where the magistrate will ask you a few questions, and then finalize an adoption date.
Final Adoption: The adoption certificates will be issued at the time of final adoption, and a second hearing will be conducted for the same. Make sure that you obtain a few extra copies of these certificates for future use.
After you obtain the certificates, you will have to apply for a new birth certificate of the child, stating his or her new name, and your details as his or her parent.
The adoption process does not end with issuing of the new birth certificate. This is when you start the process of bonding with the child, in order to establish a happy family life. Remember, parenting consists of a lot of responsibilities, and this will be a learning process for you, as well as for the child. Be patient, and everything will fall in place with a little effort and understanding.