How to Adopt a Stepchild
When a stepparent wants to adopt a stepchild as their own, they must first obtain permission from both biological parents, unless one parent has abandoned the child for an extended period of time or is deemed unfit to be a parent. If a parent wants to adopt a stepchild who is over the age of 14, then the child must consent to the adoption.
If the non-custodial biological parent agrees to the adoption, then their parental rights will be terminated. Consent is revocable until the court approves it. After the court approves the biological parent’s consent to voluntarily relinquish their parental rights, the decision cannot be revoked unless the court discovers that fraud, duress, or lack of mental competency contributed to the biological parent’s decision.
The first step in the adoption process is to complete the necessary paperwork that will determine if you meet the specific requirements to be an adoptive parent.
The adoption petition will ask you to include all of the following information:
- The name, address, and age of the prospective stepparent
- The name, address, location, and date of birth of the adoptee stepchild
- The name and address of the parent who currently has custody of the stepchild
- Written consent to the adoption by all parties who are legally required to consent
- If applicable, the legal reason for terminating the biological parent’s rights
- A written statement explaining why the adoptive parents are the best caregivers for the stepchild
- A written statement explaining why the adoption is in the stepchild’s best interest
- Whether the stepchild being adopted is covered by the Indian Child Welfare Act
- A signature from the prospective parent and their spouse
At the court hearing, the adoptive parents will testify that they understand their legal rights as parents, as well as their obligation to support the child. If the judge believes the adoption is in the child’s best interest, they will sign the adoption order.
The process can be considerably more arduous when a parent wishes to deny his or her consent to terminate parental rights. In complex cases like this, ample guidance from an attorney is crucial to ensure all parties are protected and informed.
Family Law Attorneys
We inform clients of their options and assist families in achieving their goals. If you have questions about stepchild adoption, please call 206-397-0399 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.