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The process of adopting your stepchildren

Fri 24 Nov, 2017 / by / Adoption

When you get remarried, you may consider adopting your stepchildren so everyone feels they are all part of the same new family. At Parker and Parker, Attorneys at Law, we understand that you likely have many questions about this process.

You may think that adopting your stepchildren is simply a matter of signing some paperwork. This can be the case, but even signing consents to an adoption can involve more detail and nuance than many expect. FindLaw says that both birth parents need to give their consent to this adoption, and that is quite simply NOT correct all of the time. There can be ways to complete an adoption and terminate parental rights that do not involve signing a consent. Your particular situation determines what options are available to terminate the rights of a mother or, more commonly, a putative or legal father. It is important that we sit down in our office and discuss the unique history of your lives and what options become available.

For example, if your spouse’s ex-husband has not maintained enough contact with the children or contributed financially, his consent to the adoption may not be necessary by proving that he is unfit. As another example, if your spouse’s ex was never actually her husband at all and never filed a paternity case to establish his legal rights, then there may be additional, potentially easier ways to proceed in the adoption without his consent.

Once you have gained either obtained a natural parent’s consent to adopt the children, or successfully proved that the natural parent’s consent is not required, you are ready to proceed to the hearing for finalization of the adoption. In related adoptions, certain requirements that apply to private, unrelated adoptions, such as a home study and investigation by an agency, are not required. So, related step-parent adoptions can proceed more quickly once the natural parent’s parental rights are terminated. It is always required that the adoptive step-parent, parent, and child being adopted attend the final hearing. In all cases, a guardian ad litem (attorney appointed to represent the child) must also be present at the hearing and recommend the adoption as being in the best interests of the child or children. We make sure that you are guided carefully through each and every step during this process to ensure the success of the case and so that you always know exactly what is happening, and why. 

Although you are eager to start a new life with your spouse and stepchildren, you may find that your spouse’s ex-husband contests the adoption – and that determines how quickly we can complete the case. More information about this subject can be found on our webpage. We are always happy to meet with you for a consultation about your adoption process because we understand how important it is for your family to get a clear understanding of exactly how the case can be successfully completed all the way to the end.