As the step-parent of a child, you likely understand just how important your role in their lives is. From providing emotional and physical support to creating new experiences and building a new relationship, having a stepchild can be life-changing. If you want to join the thousands of other step-parents who officially adopt stepchildren, it’s important to understand exactly what the process entails and tips that can help facilitate the process.
Ensure it’s the right choice for you
No two stepparent-stepchild relationships are the same, and while adoption is the right choice for some families—indeed, is often the right choice—it may not be the right decision for your personal situation. Therefore, take time to deeply and honestly consider your intent, desire, and hopes for the adoption. Reflect on your family’s circumstances and dynamics, and consider ways these could change post-adoption. Sit down with your family, step-children included, and discuss the possibility with all members involved. What are the concerns, uncertainties, or fears of the process? What benefits do members of your family wish to reap from the adoption? Maintaining honesty and transparency will help ensure that you make the best decision for everyone involved.
Hire an attorney
Once you’ve made the decision to adopt, consider hiring a trustworthy, experienced attorney that specializes in family law. While having an attorney isn’t mandatory in all states, it can save you a significant amount of angst and trouble in the long run. Not only do these attorneys know the legal ins and outs of stepchild adoption, but they can also help to speed up the process and ensure all necessary steps are taken to solidify and legitimize the adoption.
Get permission from the biological parents
Often the most challenging aspect of adopting a stepchild, getting signed consent from the child’s biological parent, or having them waive their parental rights, is key if you wish to gain legal parental rights. Having an attorney can greatly facilitate this process, as terminating parental rights can be difficult, especially in the case of absent or reluctant parents. Be sure you are familiar with your state’s legal requirements surrounding this procedure to guarantee lawful, legal consent.
File an official petition to adopt
As a means of collecting legitimate, honest background information on you and your spouse, the adoption petition includes a background check and other details that help the courts make a thorough, well-informed decision.
Make it final
Finalizing the adoption requires a court hearing, where you’ll be required to make a formal statement regarding why you wish to make the adoption legal and, depending on your stepchild’s age, he or she may also have to make a statement about their thoughts and opinions.
Get proper documentation
Though the court may have legally finalized the adoption, the full process isn’t complete until you apply for and receive a new birth certificate for your child, indicating that you are, in fact, the child’s legal parent.
If you’re ready to begin the adoption process and are interested in hiring a professional adoption attorney to help make the process easier, contact the family law experts at Burton Law Firm.
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