Are you coursing through a happy life with your marriage partner and in the same time want to express feelings of love towards your stepkid? Or, do you want your stepkid to have rights equal to those of your biological kids? If yes, you are on the path to form a happily blended family through your stepchild adoption.
This article is a right pick for you to learn the legal process of stepchild adoption. Moreover, you will also come across some emotional aspects of being a stepparent that will help you undergo this vital phase of your family life.
“A stepparent is so much more than just a parent; they made the choice to love when they didn’t have to.”
Best Situations for Stepchild Adoption
One of the main reasons to adopt your stepchild is to legalize the bond of love and affection. The following are certain situations under which stepchild adoption should be considered:
- In case the biological parent is absent or is not providing the kid with financial support.
- If the biological parent is abusive or neglects the child.
- A biological parent is a criminal and is subjected to punishment or imprisonment. Under such a situation, the child has to be in safe hands in order to avoid the conflicts associated with inheritance.
- To eliminate the sense of jealousy between your stepkid and biological kids.
Procedure Involving StepChild Adoption
Stepchild adoption is a state-specific procedure. In some states, there is a streamlined process for stepchild adoption. In such cases, the judge hearing the petition has the ability to provide the required home study according to the state laws.
Anyways, some states do not allow stepchild adoption until you are married to their biological parent for at least one year.
How to Adopt your Stepchild? Be Very Much Indulged
Stepchild adoption consists of the following steps that you must carry out cautiously.
1. Obtain Consent from the Biological Parents
You need the consent of both of the biological parents to proceed with the stepchild’s adoption. In case consent is granted, the non-custodial parent has to surrender all of his/her rights and obligations towards the kid.
In case the consent is denied, one has to prove that the custodial parent is not eligible to carry out the parenting.
Consent granted? Yeah. Now move to the next step!
2. Learn about the state law:
Stepchild adoption being a state-specific procedure requires you to have knowledge about the state law. Anyhow, if you want to hire an attorney, he will get the job done for you.
3. Contact the court
Secondly, you need to seek and contact the relevant court. Some states handle adoption via juvenile courts, some through family courts, and others via surrogacy courts.
4. Collect all relevant documents
Next, obtain all the relevant forms and fill them. Besides, provide all the documents that are required by the court. Once again, a hired professional lawyer can get you the required forms. Otherwise, you will have to search for the publishing companies and get the forms by yourself. Once you have completed the documents, get them submitted to the court.
5. Court hearing date
It’s time to wait for the court hearing date now. The court will assign the date according to the availability of the magistrate or the judge. You will get notified through the court.
On the other hand, if you have hired an attorney, he will notify you about the hearing date.
6. Attend the court hearing
The next step is presenting before the judge. Not only you but also the rest of the parties involved will attend the hearing. The judge will conduct the hearing and evaluate the whole matter legally and sensibly.
At the end, he will set the date to finalize adoption.
7. Adoption finalization
Once you finalize the adoption, you should ask for the documents. Then, you can apply for the revised birth certificate.
Way to go! You are now legally related to your step-kid.
Understanding the Expenses
The total cost of stepchild adoption varies from one state to another. Anyways, some typical costs are as follows:
- Documents verification fee
- Program fee
- Adoption attorney’s fee
Overall, it costs $1500-$2500 to adopt your stepchild. Anyhow, this doesn’t include the attorney fee.
Submitting to the Law
Stepchild adoption laws vary depending upon the state you are living in. However, we are going to outline some common regulations for you:
Legally Adopting a Stepchild
Legal adoption of stepchild takes place with the consent of both of the biological parents. In case of adoption, the other bio-parent has to give up all his rights and responsibilities as a parent.
First, the other bio-parent signs an adoption surrender in the presence of 2 witnesses and a notary public. Through this, he/she loses all the rights as well as his responsibilities of the child.
Second, an adoption petition is filed along with all the supporting documents.
Stepchild adoption without consent
Biological parent consent is compulsory for adoption if he or she is fulfilling all his responsibilities. But, if the parent is unfit for the child, the court has the right to proceed with the adoption.
The following are the cases where you can file a case and adopt your stepchild without his/her biological parent’s consent:
- In case the parent has not contacted the child for at least one year, the court recognizes it as abandonment. In such cases, the court will consider adoption even if the consent is denied.
- If the birth parent is in contact but not paying for the child’s support ordered by the court for at least one year. The court will have all the rights to remove that parent’s authority from the child’s life.
- To add on, if the parent is abusive and mistreats the child, adoption can be a part of the judge’s decision
- Lastly, if the parent is a criminal and is expected to lose parental rights eventually.
To Every End, There is New Beginning
Adopted your stepkid? Now get ready to ride the roller coaster of emotions. It may happen that one day you feel very positive and energetic whereas, the other day, you will feel down and out and have the fear that you are not a good parent.
Remember, a family having stepchildren does not share a common history. Furthermore, they possess different temperaments. Consequently, there is a difference of opinions as well as idiosyncrasies. So, this process is naturally bound to pass through ups and downs.
Your family might pass through the following stages.
Everything seems a fairy tale in the beginning and you expect a happy-ever-after. You are probably in the honeymoon period and things are going smoothly. Furthermore, your stepchildren are also behaving well.
Let me pop the fantasy bubble. Things will not remain the same. By now you must have developed the feeling that the stepkids do not respect you. Besides, you are having conflicts with your partner. You may feel that you are a misfit here. There is a rising tension and agitation among the family members.
But, don’t worry, this too shall pass away.
You will feel that everyone in your new family is inclined towards solving the conflicts. Additionally, trust is building between you and your stepkids. Also, you and your spouse are more likely to be on the same page in terms of family matters.
4. Finally Reunited
After solving all the issues and developing trust, you are now entering the final stage. You will find that ultimately, you have a become a responsible parent of a gallant child. Now, you must have identified the family goals and are striving for those.
The Final Words
It is emotionally satisfying, choosing to adopt your stepkid and form a happy stepfamily. However, it comes with a lot of challenges. But, you can always figure out a solution and keep moving forward. In case you cannot find out the solution on your own, seek the help of a professional and make sure all the prospect is handled with care, love, respect and honor.
“For better or worse, step-parenting is self-conscious parenting. You’re damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.”