When a child is born, he or she has two biological parents. Bio-parents are responsible for the care and welfare of their child until the child becomes an adult. Sometimes, a stepparent might want to adopt a stepchild. A stepparent adoption is a type of relative adoption, which is someone who is related by blood or marriage. Stepparent adoption occurs when the married partner of the child’s biological parent wishes to adopt. Stepparent adoption is the most common type of relative adoption. Another kind of relative adoption is by grandparents.
Why Adopt a Stepchild?
While you might live happily with a stepchild without adoption, there are several reasons why you might want to adopt. When a stepparent adopts a stepchild, it is a way to formalize the loving bond and make the relationship legal. If the child does not have another parent, it is the ideal way to add stability to the child’s life. Adoption provides the child with all the same rights as other children in the family, creating a more secure bond. A stepchild will feel wanted and loved when a stepparent makes the decision to become the child’s adoptive parent.
There are several advantages to adopting a stepchild. A parent and spouse may want to blend their families or have additional children. It can be easier to create a family unit when all the children have the exact same set of parents. Adoption can quell sibling rivalry between children in the family. A stepchild will get the same treatment as other children in the family unit and they have the same rights as biological children. An adopted child can take the last name of the adoptive parent, so all children and adults have the same name.
Things to Consider Before Adopting a Stepchild
Stepparent adoption can be a happy experience. However, there could be some legal complications that might make you reconsider the choice. Adoption can only occur when the biological parent agrees to give up their parental rights. This is often fine when the parent has not been involved in the child’s life or when the parent has serious problems that make parenting difficult. However, if the bio-parent contests the adoption, the process can be extremely challenging and emotional for adults and children. You will need to find a parent who is absent from the child’s life in order to gain permission to adopt.
Adoption is a permanent proceeding, so if you and your spouse have an unsteady relationship, you should wait to decide on adoption. Remember that once you adopt a stepchild you have taken on the responsibilities that come with parenthood and must provide for the child in the same way you would provide for a biological child. You will also want to consider the child’s wishes when you make the decision to adopt, especially if the child is older.
The decision to adopt a stepchild is a major one, and you need to evaluate the choice thoroughly. It is helpful to consult with an adoption attorney to discuss the matter and get answers to your important questions. At Moen Sheehan Meyer, Ltd., we have the experience necessary to handle all aspects of stepparent adoptions. We will help you with all the legal issues and assist you in making the adoption a reality. Call us at (608) 784-8310 to schedule a phone consultation.