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What is the Process for Step-Parent Adoptions?

Families come in all shapes and sizes, but one thing is for sure. Children do their best when they live in a strong family unit. According to the United States Census Bureau, about half of all families in the U.S. are made up of re-married or re-coupled people. On average, every day about 1,300 new families are formed. While all children are born with two parents, they need the love and support of a complete family. Many children live in blended families. In many cases, a step-parent wishes to adopt a step-child.

Steps in the Step-Parent Adoption

The adoption process for step-parents involves several steps.

Termination of Parental Rights: A child can legally only have two parents. Therefore, if a step-parent wishes to take over the responsibilities and care of a child, the child’s biological parent typically must agree to terminate his rights. Once the parental rights have been terminated, the step-parent can petition the court for adoption.

Step-Parent Screening: In order for a step-parent to adopt a child in Wisconsin, he or she must go through an investigation, also known as a screening. The screening includes an evaluation of the home where the child will reside, interviews, a background check, psychological evaluations, and references. The investigation is similar to a home study that is completed in other types of adoptions.

Adoption Petition and Adoption: The step-parent must submit a petition requesting adoption of the child. You will file a petition with the circuit court in the county where you reside. A judge will review the case and the investigation materials as part of the decision-making process. Keep in mind that the judge will always do what is in the child’s best interest. You may choose to change the child’s last name as part of the adoption process.

Important Considerations for Step-Parent Adoptions

The decision to adopt a step-child is important and will impact not only the child’s life, but also the lives of all family members. Many times, the biological parent willingly agrees to terminate his rights. However, there are situations where the parent refuses to give up his rights. In some instances, it might be difficult to locate the parent. These situations can make adoption much more challenging.

There are many reasons to consider adopting a step-child. All children in a blended family want to feel that they are part of the unit and that they are all loved equally. Adoption will help ensure that all children, whether biological or step-children, feel happy and well-adjusted. You may want all of your children to have the same last name. In some cases, the biological parent is out of the picture and the step-parent is the only one the child knows.

Step-parent adoptions are not usually complicated, but you must follow the guidelines in order to ensure that you complete the process properly. It is helpful to with with an experienced adoption attorney throughout the adoption process. Our team has the experience and expertise to handle all of the various legal matters associated with step-parent adoptions. Contact Moen Sheehan Meyer, Ltd. for the adoption help you need.

Published April 24, 2020
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